Aircraft noise from the Twin Cities' MSP International Airport increased 30% from 2014 to 2016, according to analysis of airport authority data. The hardest hit community is St. Louis Park, where the number of people significantly impacted by aircraft noise increased 177% in that timeframe.
This information comes to light at the Federal Aviation Administration is thought to be preparing its return to MSP, in order to again attempt to deploy its NextGen flight departure technology. Here we provide evidence of how the FAA uses NextGen to "hide" harmful levels of noise over new populations with the help of bogus standards, unreleased data, and the willful avoidance of "unhelpful" analyses. We believe the FAA will follow the same game plan here in the Twin Cities, and we aim to prevent that.
In this report we call for a clear, reasonable target for the reduction in aircraft noise based on a relevant benchmark. We call on the airport authority to provide greater transparency on this issue by regularly releasing data that they already produce, but do not disseminate. Finally, we call upon Governor Dayton to step up his game on the issue of environmental protection and noise pollution.
Did you hear about the last minute Obama administration rule that just cleared the path for the Met Council to expand its rule from Stearns County to Hudson, Wisconsin.?
Yeah, I thought you might have missed that one.
But that's the practical implication of the rule issued in December, which requires states to expand the geography covered by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (e.g. the Met Council), merge areas where they overlap, and to extend them across state lines.
Nationally the rule opens the door to Super-Regions that are beholden to federal dictates. Locally it creates an even broader scope for the out of control Met Council, which already has by far the largest budget and broadest scope of any regional authority in the country.
Fortunately citizens have at their disposal the Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to review and reject this sort of Midnight Monkey Business by the outgoing administration.
Narrated presentation on your left (8 minutes), and PDF here.
This update to the Real Impact series provides the first black and white proof of how the FAA's NextGen program has increased the significant impact of aircraft noise by 80% in New York City since 2010.
Specifically, I use FAA data and the Port Authority's 2016 Part 150 study to build a Noise Exposure Map that shows the extent and location of the changes, which result in more than 1.2 million people being impacted by harmful levels of aircraft noise, up from ~690,000 in 2010.
This increase is directly counter to the FAA's narrative that NextGen is reducing the impact of noise. Furthermore, the FAA already generates data that demonstrates how it deceives Congress and citizens, but it fails to share that data.
The Met Council is the Twin Cities' very own "regional authority", which is a body intended to be the planning agency to help accommodate growth across the metro area.
The perennially controversial council is once again in the news, as a task force recently took a look at how we might update the Met Council and address some of the concerns expressed about it. I'm rarely one to take the "expert" opinion as gospel, however, so I thought I would conduct my own "zero-based review" of the Met Council, and see how it stacks up against other such authorities across the country.
I specifically wanted to answer a few basic questions:
How unique is the Met Council in terms of its structure, scope and spending?
The Met Council is not a Council of Governments (COG), and many locals believe that provides the Twin Cities an advantage. Is that the case?
What alternative models are out there, and how well do they work for residents?
As I developed this report, I was struck by how often "people in the know" were surprised by the information in it. While it is not intended to be the definitive report on the Met Council, it does provide context and new information that I think is useful for concerned citizens and legislators.
It will take you 10 minutes to see if you agree with me or not.
Narrated presentation on your left, or PDF with appendix here.
This is the fourth in a series about the Federal Aviation Administration and its flawed approach to managing aircraft noise.
This presentation covers actions the FAA took in 2015 that are, in essence, a stick in the eye of Congress and People across the country that have been significantly impacted by harmful and annoying levels of aircraft noise. It also addresses improvements that citizens can demand at the local level in order to start changing the conversation about this important property rights, health and wellness issue.
Some of these improvements are shockingly easy and inexpensive to implement. Thus far, the Metropolitan Airports Commission that oversees MSP International has been a good community partner for us. But we need more, and soon, from MSP and our representatives at the local and national levels. With support from the MSP FairSkies Coalition.
Third in a series of reports about the Federal Aviation Administration and its flawed approach to managing aircraft noise across the country.
The presentation provides the first national pespective on the real impact of harmful levels of aircraft noise across the country by leveraging the FAA's own data that I acquired via a Freedom of Information Act request. That data was then compiled, analyzed and mapped in cooperation with the University of Minnesota's Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.
Once the data was processed, we applied the internationally accepted definition for the threshold of harmful and annoying levels of aircraft noise to it. The result is shocking - instead of the 340,000 people the FAA reports as being significantly impacted by aircraft noise, we show that figure to be 20 times higher - or almost 8 million people.
Furthermore, we show how as part of implementing its NextGen program, the FAA has been systematically "hiding" noise by placing many more flights over residential areas that never before had aircraft traffic. Yet since even 150 low level departures a day does not meet the FAA's outdated standard for harmful or annoying noise, it can simply put a Highway in the Sky over your house with no discussion or compensation.
You can also view an interactive map of the results, which show aircraft noise levels beyond 55 dB DNL at the census block level at more than 30 major airports in the US.
An interview of Kevin led by Jeff Williams about how Start Reading Now addresses summer setback and the achievement gap.
In June 2016 we will be in our third year of operation, and we will more than triple the number of kids served in Minneapolis Public Schools to 2,000.
The program is research-based, and addresses the very simple fact that low income kids, on average, have less than one book at home to read. And if you don't read, you don't learn. If you don't learn, you fall behind. Once you fall behind, you're on the short end of the stick for life. So we get kids $50 vouchers to buy books and build their own library of 30 books by the end of 3rd grade.
Shortly after the Minneapolis city council and mayoral election in Fall 2013, the new council, overnight, imposed a year-long moratorium on all construction of new "teardown" homes in Southwest Minneapolis (Ward 13). That move put an abrupt stop to a pipeline of $65,000,000 in annualized economic activity, in the part of town where the vast majority of new single family homes are built. All based on allegations of a systematic failure by unnamed "bad actor" builders to adhere to recommended construction practices.
Highlights of this report include:
Calling into question the fact base used to justify the moratorium
Demonstrating how the city "cherry-picked" and failed to divulge data in order to build its case
Details on a proposal for an inexpensive, technology-based solution to the issue of construction management and community responsibility
This being local government, the city council of course decided to create a 16 page, paper-based "solution" for managing construction projects. I don't think I have met a single person who knows where to find this, how to use it, or how it is used. (I am updating this in April 2016, and I have a new house - a teardown - under construction across the street from me.)
A primer on how aircraft noise is measured and evaluated in the US versus how it is done across the world. The quick take is that the standards used by the Federal Aviation Administration to evaluate noise are 40 years old, and there is plenty of information to show how we should update that approach. That includes:
lowering the threshold for the significant impact of aircraft noise to 55 dB DNL
consider using the alternative logarithmic metric known as CNEL (as is done in California and across Europe)
making regular use of single event metrics like Nx, which are much easier to understand, and much more relevant to how people actually experience noise
In November 2012 our neighborhood in SW Minneapolis and Edina discovered via a news article that the the Federal Aviation Administration was seeking local approval to implement new departure tracks out of MSP International Airport. Those tracks would focus 100-135 low-level departures a day over each of two neighborhoods that for decades had never had significant aircraft noise.
In response, local citizen leaders mobilized 4,000 signatures, and just two weeks later mobbed the airport commission meeting where the FAA sought approval for the changes.
This report grew out of data I brought to that meeting, and brings to light a new fact base on what the FAA was proposing, and the benefits they alleged from the program.
In February 2014, the power of a well-informed citizen army resulted in the FAA backing off from implementing the new departures tracks. Other communities have not been so lucky, as the FAA has obliterated decades of precedent, along with the lifestyle and property values of thousands of citizens across the country. Thus far, the Twin Cities is the only city to have staved off the FAA's new depature tracks.
The citizens who banded together to make that happen formed the MSP FairSkies Coalition, and it remains active in seeking to decrease the impact of harmful levels of aircraft noise for everyone, in the Twin Cities and beyond.