Thursday, July 5, 2012

Congress bungles noise restrictions

This Editorial was in the AZ Republic (AKA-The Repugnant) today.

As with the most of the Lame Stream Media, their bias is on full display. 

The ISSUE here (Not mentioned by the Sierra Club, tree-hugging sympaticos) is JOBS. There is an industry of aircraft (Both fixed wing and helicopters) 
that transport tourists and visitors over the Canyon and Lake Mead. Had the tree-huggers got their way, those flights would have been banned. 
Luckily, I got to hear Dr Gosar (Their Arch-enemy here) speak last Saturday. By defeating these noise restrictions by a bureaucratic arm of the government,
FIVE HUNDRED yearly jobs were saved. 


It's a bipartisan flop that elevates narrow desires above majestic goals.
How majestic? Think Grand Canyon.
Think silence as profound as the scenery. Think legacy to the future. Not just Arizona's. Not just America's
When you're talking about stewardship of one of the world's natural wonders, you're talking on a global scale. Arizona's pride. Nation's treasure. World-class tourism attraction.
Too bad Congress got sucked into thinking on a much smaller scale.
Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Harry Reid made a bipartisan blunder in shortcutting a Park Service process to restore natural quiet to the Grand Canyon. They backed legislation -- inserted into the huge transportation bill -- that supersedes the Park Service's yet-to-be-released noise regulations. The measure was pushed in the House by GOP Rep. Paul Gosar, who referred to congressional interference as an effort to stop the "Obama administration's misguided regulations."
Wrong. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill that recognized the value of limiting air tours for the sake of safety and restoring quiet to the Canyon. McCain sponsored the 1987 bill that called for "substantial restoration" of natural quiet.
The Park Service was acting on values first articulated in that law, and new regulations for the air-tour industry were nearly complete.
This was the conclusion of a long process. Nearly 30,000 comments from individuals and groups were reviewed and considered. The plan allowed up to 65,000 air tours a year. It also included incentives for transitioning to quieter air technology.
It was a balance between the desires of the air-tour industry and the nation's interest in restoring natural quiet to the Canyon. The draft released in February allowed no audible aircraft in 67 percent of the park from 75 to 100 percent of each day.
The law backed by McCain and Reid sets a goal of no aircraft noise in 50 percent of the park at least 75 percent of each day. That is the status quo. Under the law, commercial air-tour operators are required to fully convert to quiet technology within 15 years. Incentives to achieve that switchover include permission to run more flights.
Grand Canyon air tours are a $120 million-a-year industry with ties to Arizona and Nevada (some are part of Las Vegas package deals that bring nothing but noise and pollution into our state). Commercial interests deserve fair consideration, and jobs are important. But when it comes to an industry that exists solely because it can offer flights over a premier national park, the best interests of the public resource should trump private profit.
Congress should have let the experts at the Park Service do their job. By putting their bipartisan thumbs on the scale in favor of the air-tour operators, members of Congress showed little respect for the Canyon or the process set up to protect it.


Our goals for achieving natural quiet in the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon Trust will continue to work on natural quiet issues to ensure that...
  • The negative impacts to natural quiet from low-level air tours and other aircraft are  minimized by the adoption of new regulations that “substantially restore natural quiet” to Grand Canyon National Park, as required by the Grand Canyon Overflights Act.
  • The NPS selects a preferred alternative that substantially restores natural quiet to the Grand Canyon.
  • The FAA adopts regulations to implement that alternative.
  • The NPS continues to monitor aircraft noise over the Grand Canyon.

We’ve already accomplished much.

The Trust has participated with the National Parks and Conservation AssociationSierra Club, and other “quiet canyon” advocates in reviewing and commenting on proposed plans and new regulations to restore “natural quiet” to the Grand Canyon. Our major accomplishments have included:
  • Helping pass the 1987 National Parks Overflights Act.
  • Initiating a series of legal actions to enforce the law.
  • Blocking attempts by legislators funded by the air-tour-industry to amend the 1987 Act and to remove NPS authority to regulate noise from air tours. 

National Park Overflights (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) 


In an attempt to address the controversy surrounding overflight regulations, the Secretaries of Transportation and Interior appointed a National Park Overflights Working Group (NPOWG) comprised of representatives of the aviation industry, air tour industry, environmental groups, and Native Americans. The NPOWG was charged with recommending a compromise park overflights rule. The group included AOPA's Senior Vice President for Government and Technical Affairs as the representative for general aviation.
The NPOWG successfully forged a compromise that formed a solid foundation for the FAA to develop an overflight rule, which addresses the needs of aviators, tour operators, and tourists who enjoy the national parks from the air and the ground. A proposal based on the work of the NPOWG was subsequently incorporated into the FAA's FY 2000 reauthorization legislation, AIR-21. On April 27, 2001, the FAA in collaboration with the National Park Service, released its NPRM on National Parks Air Tour Management[requires Adobe Reader].
The NPRM proposes to codify the National Parks Air Tour Management Act and it mirrors the NPOWG recommendations with one exception. It includes a proposal for a 5,000-foot-agl triggering altitude to complete the definition of a "commercial air tour operation." This proposed triggering altitude conflicts with the 3,000-foot triggering altitude reached in the NPOWG. In the NPOWG AOPA advocated for a 2,000-foot triggering altitude to complete the definition. Our advocacy efforts were done in consideration of current guidelines that call for GA aircraft to overfly environmentally sensitive areas at 2,000 feet or more. After additional discussion within the working group, the Association compromised with an altitude of 3,000 feet. This altitude is in concert with VFR cruising altitudes as established by the Code of Federal Aviation Regulations 91.159, VFR cruising altitude or flight level.

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