Congressman Quigley’s Letter to FAA Response

March 2, 2016

Emily Hampsten: (202) 225-4061

Quigley Pressures FAA to Address O’Hare Noise Issue

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), pressured Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta to commit to taking actions to protect residents and their property around O’Hare International Airport from aircraft noise in today’s THUD Appropriations Subcommittee hearing.

In response, Rep. Quigley released the following statement:

“The unprecedented noise pollution facing our local communities is a serious problem that warrants urgent action from all levels. Today, I again pressured the FAA to explain why steps have not already been taken to help alleviate the noise issue. The FAA has the statutory authority to ‘relieve and protect the public health and welfare from aircraft noise’ through ‘regulations to control and abate aircraft noise.’ Yet this past December, more than 82,000 residents around O’Hare complained about the increase in noise and the FAA’s own data shows that noise will increase dramatically when the O’Hare Modernization Program is completed. As an appropriator with direct oversight of the FAA, I made clear my commitment to make the FAA protect residents, their health and their property around O’Hare.”

Rep. Quigley grilled Administrator Huerta on the increased number of noise complaints around O’Hare Airport since the beginning of the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP), pushed for an update on the 65 DNL study, and urged the FAA to enact a more balanced use of the runways to spread out the impact of aircraft noise. In a second round of questioning, Rep. Quigley pressed Administrator Huerta for an update on the FAA’s community involvement manual and implementation plan, which Rep. Quigley secured language for in the most recent omnibus. Rep. Quigley called out the FAA’s lack of meaningful community education and outreach when completing major overhauls to airspace use, including OMP.

A video of Rep. Quigley questioning FAA Administrator Huerta in today’s Appropriations THUD Subcommittee hearing is available here and here. A video of the full subcommittee hearing is available here.

O’Hare International Airport became a part of Illinois’ Fifth Congressional District in January 2013. Since then, Rep. Quigley has met continuously with neighborhood organizations and aviation officials to discuss solutions to increased noise pollution resulting from the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP). Recently, he and other Illinois representatives released a statement in response to the Chicago Department of Aviation’s (CDA) plans to mitigate O’Hare noise after a previous letter was sent to the organization pushing them to address practical solutions to noise complaints. Rep. Quigley joined other members of the Quiet Skies Caucus in a letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee with recommendations for the FAA 2015 Reauthorization Act that would help address the harmful impacts of aircraft noise on communities across the country. In May, he secured language in the FY16 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) funding bill mandating the FAA develop short and long-term measures to mitigate excessive airplane noise experienced by local communities around O’Hare International Airport.

At a hearing for Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development for FY 2016, Rep. Quigley pressed FAA Administrator Huerta on the need to lower the 65 DNL metric in the long term but insisted that the FAA work with the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) to provide immediate short term solutions for the communities affected by the O’Hare Modernization Program.  In November, Rep. Quigley, along with Reps. Duckworth and Schakowsky, urged CDA to improve the O’Hare noise complaint process by creating a dedicated O’Hare noise complaint line, manned by personnel versed on the noise issue to begin to get a truly accurate count of constituent complaints. He also pushed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct new public hearings and issue a new environmental impact study (EIS) of the OMP in response to questions raised over the hearing process and noise levels that exceeded expectations. He also repeatedly called on the FAA to change the outdated noise metric that could allow more homeowners and businesses to qualify for soundproofing programs. In Congress, Rep. Quigley helped create the Quiet Skies Caucus and introduced the Silent Skies Act to help combat aircraft noise on a national level.