"Cap and Trade" in Greenhouse Gas Emissions Launched in California

Once again taking a forefront position in innovative environmental programs, California, for good or ill, is poised to launch the first of its kind and scope in the nation greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions trading system (“Cap and Trade”). 

On November 14, 2012, the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) will hold an auction mandated by California’s 2006 “Climate Change” law, AB32, in which pollution permits (“Allowances”) will be bartered to more than 350 businesses, including utilities and refineries.  The concept behind Cap and Trade is that polluters must either cut carbon emissions to the level of a specific emission cap placed on individual types of pollutants by AB32, or buy allowances for each metric ton of carbon discharged over cap limits from other companies whose emissions did not reach cap levels.  Through the Cap and Trade program, excess carbon polluters can achieve up to 8% of emissions reductions needed. 
 

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Preemption Rears its Head Again in Federal Common Law and Nuisance Climate Change Challenge

A Federal Court has recently thrown open the door to potential civil challenges to both private and governmental sources of greenhouse gas emissions, based on the Federal common law of nuisance. For those who believe the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has acted too slowly in promulgating greenhouse gas regulation, civil actions are now possible at least in the Second Circuit. However, the Supreme Court may now scrutinize the Second Circuit’s decision. Based on a recent Fourth Circuit decision on a similar issue, the “Nine” may be tempted to follow in Moses’ footsteps and pare down the Second Circuit decision to apply only to greenhouse gas emissions from Federal projects.

 

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Wind Farm Projects - Federal and Local Environmental and Legal Issues

In the midst of much debate as to whether a threat of “global warming” and “global climate change” actually exists and, if it does, further debate as to whether wind-generated energy would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions sufficiently to have a measurable impact on global temperatures, one thing is certain – wind farms are here, and more are planned. And, as with all forms of energy generation, the siting, construction and operation of wind farms present a number of Federal and local environmental and legal issues.

At the Federal level, wind farm projects may be subject to environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). They may also be subject to challenge under the Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Rivers and Harbors Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. (The Mineral Management Services (MMS) has authority to regulate alternative energy projects on the Outer Continental Shelf.) Other regulatory issues include Bureau of Land Management (BLM) policies for wind energy projects proposed for land managed by BLM, and U.S. Forest Service (USFS) special use permit requirements for wind energy projects proposed on USFS managed land. Wind farm projects proposed near airports or military airfields must be evaluated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to determine if they would be an obstruction or hazard to air navigation or interfere with surveillance radar. Wind farm projects can sometimes impact tribal rights.

Potential state and local issues include state environmental review, project siting, permitting and licensing, zoning and surrounding land uses, land leases and easements, turbine noise, vibration (“aerodynamic modulation”), shadow flicker, visual impacts and aesthetic concerns, perceived health effects of wind turbines, interference with electromagnetic transmissions (radio, television and cell phone signals) and claims for declines in tourism and property values. There can also be issues concerning technical requirements, safety, insurance and liabilities on the part of developers, landowners and operators.

These and other wind farm related issues are being litigated, and will continue to be litigated in increasing numbers, in state and Federal courts. The litigation ranges from a case pending in a North Dakota District Court, in which the City of Wishek is seeking to force a homeowner to remove a single wind turbine from his yard, to the 130-turbine Cape Wind project, located in waters five miles off Cape Cod and recently approved by the FAA and the Department of Interior, which opponents have vowed will “be in litigation for years.”

CEQ's Steps to Modernize and Reinvigorate NEPA Includes Reporting on Climate Change Effects of Federal Actions

The Council on Environmental Quality, on February 18, 2010, proposed three substantive steps to “modernize and reinvigorate” the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). According to Nancy Sutley, the Chair of the White House-based CEQ, these measures “will assist Federal agencies to meet the goals of NEPA, enhance the quality of public involvement in governmental decisions relating to the environment, increase transparency and ease implementation.”

These three steps include when and how Federal agencies must consider greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in their proposed actions; clarifying appropriateness of “Findings of No Significant Impact” and specifying when there is a need to monitor environmental mitigation commitments; and clarifying use of categorical exclusions. The CEQ is requesting public comment on all three of the draft guidances.

The Effects of Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Must be Considered in the NEPA Process

Perhaps the most critical element to this modernization of the NEPA process is the CEQ’s draft guidance on when and how Federal agencies must consider greenhouse gas emissions and climate change in their proposed actions. According to the CEQ:

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Greenhouse Gases Should Be Considered in All EISs and EAs

On 40th Anniversary of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Jim Tankersley of the Los Angeles Times wrote that

The White House is poised to order all federal agencies to evaluate any major actions they take, such as building highways or logging national forests, to determine how they would contribute to and be affected by climate change, a step long sought by environmentalists.

The Presidential Order would most likely issue from the Council on Environmental Quality, an organization set up by NEPA to oversee the NEPA process. Mr. Tankersley’s article goes on to report that that

The head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Nancy Sutley, said in an interview this week that federal agencies "should think about both the effect of greenhouse gas emissions, and the effects of climate change, on decisions they make."

She added that the administration's decision was not yet final.

The White House was originally petitioned in 2008 to formally recognize climate considerations under NEPA, but the White House has not taken any action since then.

However, federal agencies may already be required to include an analysis of climate in their Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) and Environmental Assessments (EAs). NEPA does not mention specific areas that federal agencies must analyze to complete EISs and EAs. Instead, it states that the federal agency shall analyze the effect the federal project will have on the environment, without specifically mentioning any particular areas that need to be examined. Thus, it could be argued that federal agencies should already be examining the effect of the federal project on climate change since that is an “environmental effect” within the purview of NEPA.

As Mr. Tankersley’s article points out, some federal agencies have already taken upon themselves to consider effects on climate. Moreover, there is a growing body of caselaw indicating that the courts are beginning to rule that federal agencies should consider the effect their projects will have on the environment. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently held in Center for Biological Diversity v. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration that the NHTSA was required to examine in its EIS the effect of greenhouse gas emissions from the federal project. In coming to that conclusion, the 9th Circuit summarized the following findings from International Panel on Climate Change reports and other sources:

Carbon dioxide concentrations increasing over the 21st century are virtually certain to be mainly due to fossil-fuel emissions;

The average earth surface temperature has increased by about 0.6 degrees;

There have been severe impacts in the Arctic due to warming, including sea ice decline;

Global warming will affect plants, animals, and ecosystems around the world. Some scientists predict that it will cause 15 to 37 percent of species in certain regions to be extinct;

Global warming will cause serious consequences for human health, including the spread of infections and respiratory diseases;

Climate change is associated with increasing variability and heightened intensity of storm such as hurricanes;

Climate change may be non-linear, meaning there are positive feedback mechanisms that may push global warming past a dangerous threshold (the“tipping point”).

Center for Biological Diversity v. NHTSA, 508 F.3d at 522-23. To the Court, these findings indicate that emission of greenhouse gases substantially contribute to climate change, and climate change is expected to result in widespread adverse environmental effects. Therefore, it should be mentioned in the EIS. See also, Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Mosbacher, 488 F.Supp.2d 889 (N.D. Cal. 2007); Border Power Plant Working Group v. Department of Energy, 260 F.Supp.2d 997 (S.D. Cal. 2003); and Mid-States Coalition for Progress v. Surface Transportation Board, 345 F.3d 520 (8th Cir. 2003).

In addition, NEPA contains a provision that could be taken to require federal agencies to consider the impact of the greenhouse gas emissions created by the federal project. Section 102(F) of NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4332(F) states that “all agencies of the Federal government shall:”

Recognize the worldwide and long-range character of environmental problems and, where consistent with the foreign policy of the United States, lend appropriate support to initiatives, resolutions, and programs designed to maximize international cooperation in anticipating and preventing a decline in the quality of mankind’s world environment.

To be sure, an order from the White House would be beneficial in establishing a nationwide policy and prompt recalcitrant agencies to require consideration of climate change in their EISs and EAs. At least in the Ninth and Eighth Circuits, however, one could argue that the courts have taken the view that NEPA already requires exactly what the order would seek to implement.

What Does EPA's Finding that Greenhouse Gas Emissions Endanger Public Health and the Environment Mean to Business?

When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued its final finding that emission of six greenhouse gases endangered the public’s health and the environment because of their effect on climate change, the business community wondered how it should respond to the news.  At first glance, there seems to be blinding maze of legal and policy issues that will affect business decisions.  Although far from clear, there is a way out of the maze – although businesses with significant greenhouse gas emissions should be prepared to tackle the important issues that the Endangerment Finding raises.

Businesses Need to Take a Deep Breath (Irony Intended)

The road to the endangerment finding began in 2007, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Massachusetts v. EPA that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases constituted “air pollutants” under the Clean Air Act.  To most savvy businessmen this was a clear signal to start planning how their businesses would cope with the establishment of limits on emission of greenhouse gases.  Although the Bush Administration EPA successfully sat on the issue, when the Obama Administration took office, most companies recognized that an endangerment finding would top the EPA’s list of major environmental actions.  Thus, EPA’s announcement this past April of its proposed finding and its announcement of the final endangerment finding should have come as no surprise to anyone who has been monitoring this issue.

The key thing for businesses to remember is that the endangerment finding by itself does not regulate the emission of greenhouse gases from any source, large or small.  That being said, it does have a direct impact on mobile sources (because of section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act), with the EPA planning on issuing its final “light-duty vehicle” greenhouse gas emissions rule some time in Spring 2010.

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November 13, 2009 - Aviation and Airport Development Updates

A summary review of Aviation and Airport Development related news and information that was made public during the past week.  Trisha Ton-Nu also contributed to this post. If you would like to receive this update in an e-mail delivered to your inbox every Monday, please send an e-mail to subscribe@calairlaw.com with the word “subscribe” in the subject line.

FAA: 2 Planes Came Within 90 Feet on Ground at LAX. --- Associated Press, October 28, 2009.
The Federal Aviation Administration determined that a runway incursion at Los Angeles International Airport brought two passenger planes within 90 feet of each other on Sunday, October 25, 2009. A Midwest Express jet taxied toward a runway on which a Northwest Airlines Boeing 757 was taking off, though the jet was supposed to stop. The pilots of both planes will be questioned.
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FAA Issues Notice of ROD for FEIS Concerning Proposed Improvement Activities at Rocky GutierrezAirport in Sitka, AK. --- Federal Register, October 29, 2009.
The Federal Aviation Administration gave notice that it had issued a Record of Decision for the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act Section 810 Evaluation for Proposed Improvement Activities at Rocky Gutierrez Airport in Sitka, Alaska. The ROD included descriptions of the projects proposed by the Airport Sponsor and evaluation of the projects, as well as federal, state, and local actions that are needed prior to the implementation of the projects. The ROD also identified several of the FAA’s preferred and environmentally preferred alternatives, and alternatives selected by the FAA for implementation.
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Military Says Fighters Should Have Been Launched When Northwest Flight Overshot Airport. --- Lolita C. Baldor, Associated Press, October 29, 2009.
A top commander said the military would have launched fighter jets to track down the Northwest Airlines flight that overshot its destination if officials had been notified sooner. General Gene Renuart, head of U.S. Northern Command, learned of the incident only minutes before the Federal Aviation Administration regained contact with the pilots. He said delays must be corrected, and Northern Command is doing an internal review of the incident.
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FAA Finds Proposed Chiofaro Towers a Hazard. --- Casey Ross, Boston Globe, October 29, 2009.
Preliminary Federal Aviation Administration findings indicate that developer Don Chiofaro’s proposed towers near the New England Aquarium will have to be cut in half, because the tower complex with its proposed heights of nearly 800 feet would pose a hazard to planes taking off and landing at nearby Logan International Airport in Boston, Massachusetts. A principal at Chiofaro’s development firm said that the ruling was expected and the company still plans to pursue high-rise development on the property.
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Atlanta Airport Project Gets Stimulus Funds. --- LexisNexis, October 30, 2009.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia was awarded almost $34 million in stimulus funds through the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program, to help pay for construction of a new terminal. The total cost of the terminal, expected to be completed by spring 2012, is $1.35 billion, and the 12-gate facility will connect to the existing international Concourse E, creating a 40-gate international air travel complex.
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Air Transport Association Urges U.S. Climate Negotiators to Oppose Climate Change Tax Targeting International Air Passengers. --- PRNewswire, October 30, 2009.
The Air Transport Association of America urged climate negotiators to oppose the “International Air Passenger Adaption Levy,” which would single out aviation to raise $10 billion per year for climate-change projects to be built in developing countries, and would likely take the form of an exorbitant climate change tax imposed on airlines and their passengers. In a letter to Todd Stern, the U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, the ATA impelled the United States to oppose the tax and instead support the industry’s proactive proposal for a global and sectoral approach to aviation and climate change.
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FAA Issues Intent to Rule on OAK’s Request for a PFC to Connect OAK to BART. --- Federal Register, November 2, 2009.
The Federal Aviation Administration plans to rule on and invited public comment on a proposed Passenger Facility Charge at Metropolitan Oakland International Airport, which would go toward providing a direct people mover connection between the Coliseum Bay Area Rapid Transit station and the airport.
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Federal Officials Reject Restrictions on Night Flights at BobHopeAirport. --- L.A. Now, November 2, 2009.
A request by the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority for a curfew at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California was rejected by the Federal Aviation Administration for being unreasonable because it would create an “undue burden on commerce” and negatively affect the national air transportation system. The FAA found that the airport failed to meet four of the six conditions required of a restriction proposal, and several major cargo companies including Fed Ex and United Parcel Service opposed the implementation of a curfew.
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Hawaii Airport Getting New Control Tower. --- Associated Press, November 2, 2009.
Construction on a new $39 million air traffic control tower at Keahole-Kona International Airport in Hawaii is to begin in December, and is expected to be put into use in May 2012. The current 51-foot tower was built in 1970 to control a 6,500-foot runway, but after it was extended to 11,000 feet in 1993, it was more difficult for controllers to see the north end. The new tower should provide controllers better views of the airfield.
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Small Airports Land Big Money. --- Thomas Frank, USA TODAY, November 2, 2009.
A USA TODAY analysis shows that Congress has steered $1.1 billion since 2001 to “pet projects” at airports that cater to private planes, with approximately $100 million being allocated to low-priority projects. These “earmarks” projects have been criticized for potentially detracting from federal aid that could be used for projects to ease flight delays at the nation’s busiest airports, but a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said that the earmarks account for only 5% of airport grants.
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Stealth-Mode Wind Turbines. --- Peter Fairley, Technology Review, November 2, 2009.
Danish wind turbine company Vestas and United Kingdom defense contractor Qinetiq believe they may have the solution to the wind-turbine-related aviation radar interference problem: the first “stealth” wind-turbine blade. Turbines can interfere with radar by reflecting radar systems’ microwave signals and creating shadows that erase planes from radar operators’ screens and clutter those screens with the turbines’ signature. The stealth blade is constructed of material that absorbs radar, and the blade produces a markedly smaller signature in comparison to conventional blades.
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Congressman Sherman Proposes Legislation to Allow Nighttime Curfews at Valley Airports. --- California Chronicle, November 3, 2009.
In the wake of the Federal Aviation Administration’s rejection of the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority’s application for a waiver to impose nighttime curfews at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California, Congressman Brad Sherman is proposing legislation that would allow Bob Hope and Van Nuys Airport to implement mandatory nighttime curfews from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.
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FAA Issues Airworthiness Directive for ATR Model ATR42 and ATR72 to Correct “An Unsafe Condition.” --- Federal Register, November 3, 2009.
The Federal Aviation Administration adopted a new Airworthiness Directive for ATR Model ATR42 and ATR72 airplanes requiring action to address an unsafe condition related to the “unacceptable” probability of ignition risk.
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Safer Standards Urged After North Las Vegas Crashes. --- Keith Rogers, Las Vegas Review-Journal, November 2, 2009.
A Clark County Aviation Department report found that 75 percent of the accidents involving experimental and other aircraft at North Las Vegas Airport in Nevada were caused by pilot error. The report gave several recommendations for the Federal Aviation Administration, which the agency is reviewing and considering, barring those recommendations that have already been implemented.
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IG Report Faults NY Delay Initiative. --- Adrian Schofield, Aviation Week, October 30, 2009.
The Department of Transportation’s Inspector General found that benefits have been seen in just five of the Federal Aviation Administration’s 30 completed New York airport and airspace initiatives. Most of the completed initiatives were either not used or used infrequently, and the IG questioned their viability as “effective delay-reduction solutions.” The IG’s report also found that the FAA lacks an effective process for evaluating the usefulness of the individual initiatives, thereby preventing it from determining if the initiatives provide any benefits.
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Lawmakers Seek Ban on Laptops in Airline Cockpits. --- Joan Lowy, Associated Press, November 3, 2009.
Senator Byron Dorgan, chairman of the aviation subcommittee, said he is planning on introducing a bill that will ban the use of computer laptops and other personal electronic devices in airline cockpits, to prevent an incident like the Northwest Airlines plane that overshot its destination from occurring again. Currently the Federal Aviation Administration does not prohibit pilots from using such devices, except below 10,000 feet when the plane is taking off or landing. Other lawmakers have also indicated that they would support such legislation.
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Acadia to Develop Air Tour Regulations. --- Heather Seavey, WCSH, November 4, 2009.
Acadia National Park in Maine and the Federal Aviation Administration are working together to develop new regulations for scenic air tours that fly over the park. The new regulations would be designed to limit noise for park visitors and wildlife, and would extend to a ½ mile perimeter around the park boundaries and up to 5,000 feet above ground level.
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Northwest Pilots Appeal License Revocation. --- Joan Lowy, Associated Press, November 5, 2009.
The Northwest Airlines pilots who overshot their Minneapolis destination by 150 miles and had their licenses revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration are appealing the revocation with the National Transportation Safety Board. The FAA revoked the pilots’ licenses because they said the pilots put the 144 passengers of the flight in serious danger, and highlighted the incident as an example of the “erosion of professionalism” among commercial pilots.
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FAA Proposes Millions in Penalties Against United Airlines. --- Business and Legal Resources, November 5, 2009.
The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing a $3.8 million civil penalty against United Airlines for operating one of its Boeing 737 aircraft on more than 200 flights in a less-than-airworthy condition. The airline had violated its own maintenance procedures on one of the plane’s engines—two shop towels, and not the required protective caps, had been used to cover openings in the oil sump area.
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FAA Tracking Planes That Flew Over House Hit By Ice. --- ChicagoBreakingNewsCenter, November 5, 2009.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident wherein a large piece of ice fell from the sky and hit a home in Chicago, Illinois on Wednesday, November 4, 2009. The house lies under one of O’Hare International Airport’s flight paths, and FAA investigators will seek to identify which planes were overhead at the time of the incident, and if any may have reported a leak, which could then be the source of the ice.
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Are Some Airlines Just Too Dangerous to Fly? --- Richard Korman, Miller-McCune, November 4, 2009.
A recently-conducted study found that certain old planes operated from Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa have more accidents. Developing countries are more likely to use old planes beyond their “designed economic life,” and maintenance of these planes may fall short of international standards, though it is difficult to establish global standardization. The European Union launched an airline blacklist in 2006, and passengers should avoid those carriers or carriers from Federal Aviation Administration-downgraded countries, though international maintenance standards should be implemented and enforced.
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Photos Show AA Plane at Center of Safety Investigation. --- Scott Friedman, NBC DallasFort Worth, November 4, 2009.
American Airlines is being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration after the airline voluntarily self-disclosed a discrepancy in several of the screwheads used to hold AA plane #279’s skin. The screws appear to be ordinary and unlike the rivets generally used, but the carrier insists that they are aerospace quality and were only installed just before the plane was moved to the New Mexico desert and retired. The FAA is investigating whether the plane carried any passengers with the changed screws, and whether the plane was deliberately moved to the desert graveyard to keep it out of sight of inspectors.
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Barclay Urges Senate to Pass FAA Bill; Eliminate AMT Penalty. --- Aviation News, November 4, 2009.
Charles Barclay, president of the American Association of Airline Executives, is urging the Senate to pass the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill quickly and permanently eliminate the AMT penalty on airport private activity bonds.
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Director of Singapore Firm Sentenced for Illegally Exporting Controlled Aircraft Components to Iran. --- Department of Justice, November 5, 2009.
Laura Wang-Woodford, one of the directors of Singapore-based Monarch Aviation Pte Ltd., was sentenced in federal court in Brooklyn to 46 months in prison for conspiring to violate the U.S. trade embargo by exporting controlled aircraft components to Iran. Along with her husband, Brian D. Woodford, who served as chairman and managing director of Monarch and who remains a fugitive, Ms. Wang-Woodford illegally exported aircraft parts and U.S. military aircraft components. At the time of her December 23, 2007 arrest in San Francisco, she was also in possession of catalogues from a Chinese company from which all U.S. citizens and entities are prohibited from engaging in business.
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FAA Chief: Pilots Must Refocus on Professionalism. --- Joan Lowy, Associated Press, November 4, 2009.
Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt told an aviation club that pilots must refocus on professionalism, and that recent incidents like Northwest Flight 188, which overshot its destination by 150 miles, and the Buffalo, New York crash that killed 50 people, were caused because the pilots forgot their first job was to focus on flying the plane. Babbitt has been stressing a need for stronger professionalism among airline pilots, and he has urged veteran pilots to mentor less experienced pilots.
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$3.7 Million to Study O’Hare Terminal Airlines Don’t Want. --- Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times, November 4, 2009.
Consulting firm Landrum & Brown was awarded a $3.7 million contract to plan for a new western terminal project at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois that the major airlines are refusing to fund and consider ill-conceived. The Federal Aviation Administration, which provided the funding for the study, believes the Western Terminal Planning Study is an “important and necessary tool” to help the agency coordinate with the state to provide regional and local roadways for western access to O’Hare.
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Airport Weight Debate Goes to Commissioners. --- Kurt Hildebrand, The Record-Courier, November 4, 2009.
Douglas County, Nevada commissioners will look at a proposal analyzing what might happen if Minden-Tahoe Airport loses federal funding. The Federal Aviation Administration has already withheld some funding due to the county’s failure to alter the airport’s entry in federal publications, and the FAA would be less likely to continue to provide funding if the airport does not comply with assurances representatives made that the airport would be maintained. The county is analyzing potential options for maintaining the airport without federal funding if the county is held in non-compliance and does not receive federal funds.
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How to Keep Planes From Colliding with Lasers. --- Physics Today, November 5, 2009.
Researchers have created a radio-tracking device that can detect aircraft entering the vicinity of a laser beamed into the sky, which would greatly aid in the prevention of plane-laser collisions. The current method involves using human observers to watch for planes flying with 25 degrees of the laser beams, but the new device would have none of the potential for human error.
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FAA Investigates Clem’s Airport Lease Deal. --- Alan Gustafson, Statesman Journal, November 6, 2009.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a controversial lease awarded by former aviation director Dan Clem to a developer at Aurora State Airport in Oregon. The inquiry concerns whether the lease complied with federal grant conditions for airports that receive FAA funding for improvements, and the Oregon Department of Justice is conducting its own investigation into Clem’s handling of the lease. Mr. Clem resigned as state aviation director on October 19 of this year.
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MontanaAirport Hopes to Build Control Tower Soon. --- Associated Press, November 6, 2009.
Missoula International Airport, Montana airport administrators hope to begin building a new control tower in spring, after the Federal Aviation Administration approved about $6.7 million in funding for the tower. The new tower will likely be about 120 feet tall, approximately double the height of the current tower, which was built in the early 1960s.
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Noise Pollution Control. --- Save the Earth!, November 6, 2009.
Noise pollution is displeasing human-, animal-, or machine-created sounds, damaging to physiological and psychological health. In the early 1970s the Environmental Protection Agency developed federal noise-emission standards, and the Federal Aviation Administration adopted Ldn (day-night equivalent level) as the noise descriptor in assessing land-use compatibility with various levels of aircraft noise. The EPA, FAA, and other government agencies work to identify major noise sources in the United States and craft measures to curb noise pollution.
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Notice of Availability of a Record of Decision for Streamlining the Process of Experimental Permit Applications. --- Federal Register, November 6, 2009.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced the availability of a Record of Decision for streamlining the environmental review of experimental permit applications for the launch and/or reentry of reusable suborbital rockets. The ROD provides a description of the Proposed Action—the FAA’s Preferred Alternative and the environmentally preferable alternative—and includes a discussion of environmental impacts associated with the Proposed Action for each resource area.
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ExhaustConeFalls Off Jet Onto NY Home’s Lawn. --- David B. Caruso, Associated Press, November 6, 2009.
An engine tailcone fell off a Delta Air Lines Boeing 777 and landed on a lawn in a Long Island, New York residential neighborhood, though neither pilots nor anyone on the ground immediately noticed the mishap. The aircraft does not need the part to fly, and carried on safely to its destination in Tokyo, where Delta personnel reported the engine part missing following an inspection after the plane landed. Delta is conducting an investigation to determine what went wrong.
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FAA Streamlines Experimental Space Flight Access. --- Michael Cooney, Network World, November 6, 2009.
The Federal Aviation Administration says it will streamline the environmental review part of permit applications for the launch and/or reentry of reusable suborbital rockets to help bolster a young commercial space market. The Processing of Experimental Permit Applications (PEIS) is the central and important document of the ruling, because it presents information and analysis common to reusable, suborbital rockets and effectively focuses on environmental impacts specific to an applicant’s proposed experimental operations.
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Van Nuys Would Like To Be Paid Back For All That Soundproofing. --- Curbed LA, November 6, 2009.
The Van Nuys Airport Citizens Advisory Council is seeking reimbursement from the City of Los Angeles for the cost of installing insulation in homes near Van Nuys Airport in California, after the Federal Aviation Administration rejected plans to enforce a curfew at Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport which would have resulted in the diversion of planes to airports like Van Nuys. The figure is in the $10 million range, but will likely increase when the cost of noise consultants is factored in.
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NBAA Welcomes FAA Ruling Against Curfew Proposal. --- Charter X News, November 7, 2009.
The National Business Aviation Association applauded the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to deny a proposed ban on nighttime operations at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, California. The NBAA had submitted an extensive legal filing in opposition to the curfew proposal, one of the documents cited by the FAA in support of its decision.
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Buzzing of Santa Monica Pier Leads to Questions About Aviation Safety. --- Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times, November 8, 2009.
A November 2008 incident at Santa Monica Pier involving a low-flying military jet has focused attention on the use of high-performance military jets by civilian pilots and the hazard they can pose to people in the air and on the ground. In the Western Pacific region of California, Nevada, Arizona, and Hawaii there are about 5,600 experimental exhibition planes that are restricted by the government to air shows, flight demonstrations, or training flights over sparsely populated areas, but there is little to stop those who own or operate those planes from using them in unapproved and dangerous ways. David G. Riggs, the pilot and owner of the jet involved in the Santa Monica Pier incident, may have illegally sold rides in such unapproved planes and may even have failed to adhere to proper maintenance standards for the planes.
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FAA Gives Hope to Cargo. --- Aircargo Asia Pacific, November 9, 2009.
The air cargo industry praised the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to reject BobHopeAirport’s request for a ban on nighttime operations at the Burbank, California airport. Daniel Fernandez, director of the International Air Cargo Association, said that the decision sends a clear message to other airports that may have been considering similar restrictive actions.
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City Council Committee Approves Delta-Airport Lease. --- Kelly Yamanouchi, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 9, 2009.
The Atlanta, Georgia city council transportation committee approved the proposed lease between Hartsfield-JacksonInternationalAirport and Delta Air Lines after the Federal Aviation Administration wrote in a memo that most of its concerns about the deal had been addressed. Key issues involved potentially anti-competitive provisions in the lease, including the restriction of gate usage—a representative for American, Continental, US Airways, and United told the transportation committee that the agreement will restrict those carriers because they will lose five of their gates. The full council will take up the measure at its November 16, 2009 meeting.
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Aircraft Owner Group spent $770,000 Lobbying in 3Q. --- Associated Press, November 9, 2009.
The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, representative of private pilots, spent $770,000 lobbying on issues related to small aircraft, security, and airport fees, in the third quarter. The group lobbied for legislation that would require the Homeland Security secretary to go through a negotiated rulemaking process before issuing rules aimed at general aviation aircraft, as well as issues like greenhouse emissions, fuel, reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration, and authorization for the Transportation Security Administration.
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US Airways Spent $410K Lobbying Government in 3Q. --- Associated Press, November 9, 2009.
US Airways Group Inc. spent $410,000 lobbying in the third quarter. The carrier lobbied on the cap-and-trade energy proposal and aviation regulation issues, and on bills aimed at curbing speculation in the energy markets. US Airways also lobbied on reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration and air cargo security issues, aircraft engineering, flight operations, and maintenance issues.
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Senators Call for Passage of FAA Bill. --- Aviation News Today, November 9, 2009.
A group of lawmakers called on Senate leaders to pass the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. The Senate Commerce Committee approved the FAA Air Transportation and Modernization Act of 2009, S. 1451 on July 21, 2009, but the bill has stalled in the Finance Committee, which has yet to consider the tax portion of the bill.
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Airbus A319 Drops Parts on Dallas. --- Associated Press, November 10, 2009.
A left overwing emergency slide and the door over the compartment in which the slide was stowed fell from an Airbus A319 jet making a test flight in Dallas, Texas. The jet was undergoing maintenance when the incident occurred, and no injuries were reported and the plane was able to land safely.
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October 21, 2009 - Aviation and Airport Development Updates

 

A summary review of Aviation and Airport Development related news and information that was made public during the past week.  Trisha Ton-Nu also contributed to this post.

House Passes Bill to Toughen Pilot Training Rules.--- Joan Lowy, Associated Press, October 15, 2009

The House passed a bill, 409-11, to toughen regulations on pilot training, qualifications, and work schedules, after a fatal crash in upstate New York in February and other accidents involving regional airlines. The bill would require that all pilots flying for a passenger-carrying airline have an Air Transport Pilot certificate, which would significantly increase the number of flying hours an entry-level airline pilot must have. Under the bill, the Federal Aviation Administration is also required to update rules governing how many hours airlines may require a pilot to fly before the pilot is permitted rest. The FAA is additionally required to ensure that airlines conduct comprehensive pre-employment screening of prospective pilots, create mentoring programs between experienced and newly hired pilots, and provide remedial training for pilots who perform poorly on skills tests. A companion bill is being introduced in the Senate.

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Passenger ‘Rights’ Advocate Sues Delta, Alleges Email Hacking. --- Justin Bachman, BusinessWeek, October 13, 2009

Kate Hanni, a passenger rights advocate, is accusing Delta Airlines and Metron Aviation aviation consulting firm of hacking into her email and personal computer. Her computer and email account were both accessed illegally this past summer, with some emails stolen and other work materials damaged. Both Delta and Metron deny the allegations and dismiss them as “baseless and without merit.”

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ATA Commends ICAO Member States for Progress on Climate Change Agenda. --- Air Transport Association, October 14, 2009

The Air Transport Association of America commended the member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization for confirming a Program of Action at a recent High Level Meeting on Climate Change. The ATA was pleased with the “groundwork” laid by ICAO in the members’ endorsement of continuing fuel efficiency improvements, and agreement that additional goals like carbon-neutral growth in the medium term need to be considered. ATA President James C. May urged ICAO to fully endorse a global sectoral approach to aviation and climate change over the next year.

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Safety Bill Faces Rough Flight in Senate. --- Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News, October 16, 2009

The aviation safety bill recently passed in the House is likely to face tough challenges for passage in the Senate due to growing industry opposition, the intrusion of extraneous issues that could delay or doom the safety measures, and a tight Senate schedule. The major airlines are particularly opposed to the provision that would boost the number of flight hours for newly hired pilots from the current 250 to 1,500, citing that experience is not equated with total flight time or level of technical certification. The pilots and their union, however, back the training requirement. The bill also faces a procedural challenge in that it must be merged with the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill pending in the Senate Finance Committee, which has been wrapped up for months with healthcare reform legislation.

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FAA Opposes Plan for Composting at Palo AltoAirport. --- Will Oremus, Silicon Valley Mercury News, October 16, 2009

A citizen task force on compost and aviators are opposed on the issue of building a new compost facility at Palo Alto, California airport. The task force presented a plan to the city council to build a new, high-tech composting facility on four undeveloped acres owned by the airport, but airport backers were incensed they had not been consulted, and some saw the project as a nonstarter. They sent a letter to the city council outlining their opposition and noting that the airport has long sought to use the undeveloped land, but been unallowed to by the council, and raising safety issues about the composting operation.

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FAA Drops Objections to New Jersey Wetland Restoration. --- Associated Press, October 16, 2009

The Federal Aviation Administration dropped its objections to the restoration of wetlands on a 250-acre site near Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. The agency had feared that the project would lead to planes hitting more migratory birds, but now says in an Oct. 5 letter that it will work out a plan to keep birds from the area out of the path of air traffic at the airport.

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FAA Scuttles Wind Turbines at CapeBase. --- Associated Press, October 16, 2009

Six days after approving wind turbines at the Massachusetts Military Reservation on Cape Cod, the Federal Aviation Administration said some could not be built because they would pose a hazard to air navigation. The National Guard filed applications for as many as 17 wind turbines and the FAA originally approved of eight of them, but now just three remain.

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FAA Seeks Certain Safety Work on Boeing Jets. --- Reuters, October 16, 2009

The Federal Aviation Administration is asking airlines to replace fuel pump parts on nearly 700 Boeing 757s and inspect more than 780 newer model 737s for tiny fuselage scratches. Boeing Co. said it recommended that both steps be taken as part of ongoing safety programs for the fleet, and as part of joint safety efforts by Boeing, the FAA, and airlines that include reducing chances that electrical shorts could ignite fuel vapors.

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Audit Forcing Airport to Justify Land Usage. --- D.R. Stewart, Tulsa World, October 17, 2009

A Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General audit is requiring Tulsa International Airport (Oklahoma) and many other commercial airports to show justification for the use of thousands of acres of property acquired under a federal aircraft noise mitigation program. The 2005 audit found that 11 airports surveyed were holding 3,800 acres of land worth approximately $235 million that were no longer needed for noise compatibility or airport development, and the Federal Aviation Administration is now directing airports that have acquired noise-sensitive properties with FAA grants to inventory the properties, describe their uses or proposed uses, and justify the rationale for keeping or selling them back to the private sector.

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FAA Expands American Airlines Repair Probe. --- Associated Press, October 17, 2009

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Federal Aviation Administration may be expanding its investigation into suspected structural problems found in American Airlines’ McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series jets. An American Airlines spokesman told the newspaper that the carrier has responded to the agency’s formal letter of investigation, and the carrier is also slowly replacing the MD-80s with new, more fuel-efficient planes. Preliminary FAA findings show that as many as 16 jets were operated for months despite substandard repairs.

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Two Passengers Sue United Airlines Over A320 Runway Skid in Chicago Caused by Crossed Wiring. --- Tim Klass, Associated Press, October 20, 2009

Two passengers on a United Airlines A320 that skidded off a runway in Chicago in October 2007 are suing the airline and the manufacturer for damages for pain, suffering, lost pay, medical expenses, and other losses. United has confirmed that a previous United A320 that skidded into snow at Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming in February 2008, as well as the plane in Chicago and a third not involved in any mishap, had crossed wiring in the main landing gear, which could cause the wheels to lock on both planes that went off the runways. The Federal Aviation Administration has not yet determined the outcome of its investigation into the Chicago skid, however, in August 2008 the agency proposed an $18,000 penalty against United for two maintenance violations that preceded the Jackson Hole skid.

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Airport Expansion Hitting Critical Juncture. --- Keith Benman, In Business, October 21, 2009

Gary/Chicago International Airport (Illinois) must accomplish several tasks in the coming months to remain on schedule for spending approximately $6 million per year in Federal Aviation Administration funding. Land acquisition and other projects have kept the airport on schedule for spending the money, Illinois Representative Ed Soliday says getting positive revenue into the airport is also important. State officials have also been pushing for the privatization of Gary airport, hoping that privatization could help bring airlines to the airport. The airport faces problems in moving railroad tracks, which interfere with a planned runway expansion, in seeking the condemnation of 103 acres of land owned by Gary Community School Corp., which it needs to satisfy federal requirements that any sensitive habitats destroyed by the expansion be replaced, and in fully exploring environmental contamination.

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October 1, 2009 - Aviation and Airport Development Updates

A summary review of Aviation and Airport Development related news and information that was made public during the past week.  Trisha Ton-Nu also contributed to this post.

  • O’Hare Airport hit for safety violations in FAA report. During routine inspections at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, IL, the Federal Aviation Administration uncovered several violations that endanger airplanes at the most critical phases of flight: takeoffs and landings. In a “letter of correction” to Chicago, the FAA said that O’Hare is out of compliance with federal aviation law and that the airport’s self-inspection program does not reflect actual conditions in the field. The problems noted at O’Hare, considered major violations, have almost all been corrected already and a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Aviation said the rest will be resolved by the end of November. 9/24/09, Jon Hilkevitch, Chicago Tribune, http://bit.ly/xbMHb
  • House votes short-term extension for FAA programs. The House has voted to extend existing air transportation programs through the end of the year, the seventh time in two years that it has had to take temporary measures to prevent certain Federal Aviation Administration programs from shutting down. The Senate is expected to follow with a similar bill as it has struggled to get an FAA bill to the floor this year, due to policy differences and a preoccupation in the Senate with the health care issue. 9/24/09, Jim Abrams, Associated Press, http://bit.ly/L1Wg8
  • FAA clears India’s safety measures. The Federal Aviation Administration’s International Aviation Safety Assessment team recently revisited India to confirm and validate action taken on earlier concerns raised by an audit in March 2009. The IASA team found India fully compliant with international safety standards as it had taken steps to meet the concerns from the March audit, and reported that it could continue to be maintained in Category-I, which means Indian airlines can expand operations in the U.S. and get new points of call and share codes. 9/24/09, Business Standard, http://bit.ly/hauyN
  • AAAE panel mulls lack of long-term FAA reauthorization bill. At the American Association of Airport Executives’ National Airports Conference a panel of industry experts predicted that Congress’ likelihood of passing a long-term Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill is slim at present. The passage of a three- to six-month extension of FAA’s authority and funding is only a short-term response to the September 30, 2009 end of the federal fiscal year, and Kate Lang, the FAA’s associate administrator for airports, pointed out that short-term extensions make it difficult for airports to do multi-year projects and a more stable program is needed. 9/23/09, Aviation News, http://bit.ly/17xURv
  • Former American Chairman and CEO boosts passenger rights proposals. Former American Chairman and CEO Robert Crandall has joined the call for a federally imposed time limit that would give passengers the option to get off a plane that has been stuck on the tarmac for hours, with a four-hour limit initially that would transition to a three-hour limit on January 1, 2011, to give carriers time to adjust their operations. A passenger rights proposal may be closer to passage now more than ever, with organizations like the Business Travel Coalition and the National Business Travel Association giving their support for the passage of such a bill. Senators Barbara Boxer and Olympia Snowe sponsored passenger rights legislation that is currently in the Senate Commerce Committee’s version of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, which has yet to be passed. 9/23/09, Andrew Compart, Aviation Daily, http://bit.ly/8Zoor
  • Daley downplays FAA violations at O’Hare. Mayor Richard Daley downplayed Federal Aviation Administration violations recently found at O’Hare International Airport as “not very significant,” declaring that none of the violations deal with the safety of people landing or taking off. He also said that he continues to have confidence in Aviation Commissioner Rosemarie Andolino, and that the city is reviewing and dealing with all of the violations. 9/24/09, Dan Blake, Chicago Tribune, http://bit.ly/P1HlV
  • Senate passes three-month FAA extension. The Senate passed H.R. 3607, a bill that extends FAA programs and excise taxes through December 31, 2009, and awaits President Obama’s signing the measure into law before the current extension expires at the end of the month. 9/24/09, Aviation News, http://bit.ly/VI87A
  • EIS for the CA high-speed train project from Los Angeles to San Diego via the Inland Empire. The FRA and California High-Speed Rail Authority will jointly prepare a project Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Impact Report for the Los Angeles to San Diego section of the California High-Speed Train System. The preparation of the EIR/EIS will involve developing preliminary engineering designs and assessing potential environmental effects associated with the construction, operation, and maintenance of the High-Speed Train system. Written comments on the scope of the EIR/EIS should be provided to the appropriate authorities by November 20, 2009, or at any of the public scoping meetings scheduled for various cities from October 13, 2009, to November 3, 2009. 9/24/09, TradingMarkets.com, http://bit.ly/2x1bwb
  • FAA Associate Administrator of Aviation Safety Peggy Gilligan’s speech at the ABA Air & Space Forum. In a speech at the American Bar Association’s Air and Space Forum, the Federal Aviation Administration’s Associate Administrator of Aviation Safety Peggy Gilligan stated that safety is the “foundation for public confidence” in aviation. She called for cooperation on safety to ensure the long-term global success of aviation and applauded international cooperation for making great strides over the past 60 years. Ms. Gilligan closed her speech acknowledging that the three-pronged approach in global regulation of aviation that includes holding each other to standards, providing assistance when needed, and proactively identifying and addressing risk, enhances safe air transportation around the world. 9/23/09, Peggy Gilligan, http://bit.ly/ijlZJ
  • AEA joins NATA in opposing foreign repair station language in FAA reauthorization bill. The Aircraft Electronics Association and National Air Transport Association are contacting members of Congress in opposition to foreign repair station provisions in both the House and Senate versions of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. Each of the bills contains a provision that requires additional FAA oversight of foreign repair stations, and could eliminate a reciprocal audit provision of the U.S.-European Community Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement, unnecessarily raising costs for E.U.-based repair stations. U.S. repair stations could also face high job loss if companies that hold a U.S.-based European Aviation Safety Agency Part 145 repair station certificate lose the reciprocal audit capabilities between the FAA and EASA. 9/28/09, National Air Transport Association, http://bit.ly/INtRv
  • California state court rules that FAA Authorization Act preempts CA’s Unfair Competition Law. California Superior Court Judge Elizabeth White held that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act preempted claims against motor carriers brought under California’s Unfair Competition Law and protected motor carriers from state regulations. The federal law, part of the FAA Authorization Act, prohibits states from enacting and enforcing laws that are related to motor carrier prices, routes, or services, and Judge White held that the attorney general’s case, based on the allegation that the defendants had improperly classified drivers as independent contractors rather than employees, would have a significant effect on motor carrier prices, routes, or services. 9/28/09, Truckinginfo.com News, http://bit.ly/3U9Gkg
  • Carbon offset kiosks at SFO help air travelers ditch guilt. San Francisco International Airport has partnered with a private company to install self-serve kiosks where passengers can purchase carbon offsets for their flights. Carbon offsets for travel are unregulated, however, so it is unsure if patrons are getting what they pay for as the idea is rather abstract. Travelers input the number of miles their trip will cover, how long it will take, and the number of passengers they plan to buy offsets for, and receive a piece of paper representing a fact that their money went toward a carbon-offset project somewhere or that an emission did not occur somewhere else. Though more certainty about an offset is preferred, Professor Michael Wara of Stanford University believes the program is “better than nothing” and the airport hopes that the kiosks raise awareness about the environmental impact of flying. 9/29/09, Rori Gallagher, National Public Radio, http://bit.ly/1j6nyE

 

Early Draft of Boxer-Kerry Climate Change Bill Released, Includes Aircraft Emission Provision, But Still Much Work to Be Done

Update 09/30/09 The Boxer-Kerry bill introduced at the press conference this morning - also known as Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act - dropped the provision requiring the EPA Administrator to promulgate standards for aircraft and aircraft engines.  Instead, it includes a more general provision that

. . . the Administrator may establish provisions for averaging, banking, and trading of greenhouse gas emissions credits within or across classes or categories of motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines, nonroad vehicles and engines (including marine vessels), and aircraft and aircraft engines, to the extent the Administrator determines appropriate and considering the factors appropriate in setting standards under those sections.

In his article that appeared in the New York Times on September 28, 2009, Darren Samuelson stated that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) is attempting to move the discussion away from “cap-and-trade” and to focus on “pollution reduction:”

Kerry last week sought to change the vernacular surrounding the climate bill and sell its concepts more broadly, insisting it is not a "cap and trade" proposal but a "pollution reduction" bill. "I don't know what 'cap and trade' means. I don't think the average American does," Kerry said. "This is not a cap-and-trade bill, it's a pollution reduction bill"

The early discussion draft that was released on September 29, 2009, reveals that the “Boxer-Kerry” bill is similar to the HR 2454 (also known as “Waxman-Markey” or “American Climate and Energy Security Act”) which was passed by the House earlier this past summer, most notably, they both “contain the same longer-term emissions limits of 42 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and an 83 percent cut for 2050.”   http://bit.ly/3TPuk   There are, however, a couple of notable differences.

  1. Boxer-Kerry “diverges from the House measure in its push for a 2020 emissions target of 20 percent, compared with the House's bill's 17 percent limit.” http://bit.ly/3TPuk
  2. In Subtitle D “Carbon Market Assurance,” oversight and assurance of carbon markets are given solely to the “Federal Commodities Trade Commission.”  § 431(b)(1). The working group established in § 431(c) will make its recommendations to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
  3. There is a short Subtitle – “Nuclear and Advanced Technologies,” which covers “nuclear grants and programs,” but nothing else. Although the draft includes a section “Nuclear Waste Research and Development,” it is, for the time being, blank.  Subtitle D, “Nuclear and Advanced Technologies,” §§ 141 and 142.
  4. Boxer-Kerry includes a provision stating that the EPA Administrator shall promulgate greenhouse gas emission standards for aircraft and new aircraft engines. § 821(c).

The early draft also is different from the House Bill for what it does not contain, for example:

  1. Boxer-Kerry does not bar the EPA from considering greenhouse gas emissions from “international indirect land-use changes” when implementing the national biofuels mandate. http://bit.ly/3TPuk
  2. Unlike ACES, Boxer-Kerry does not contain a section that restricts the EPA’s ability to enact climate change regulations. http://bit.ly/3TPuk

Despite these differences, the bulk of the draft Senate bill contains many of the same provisions of ACES. Moreover, this is an early draft of the bill, the completed bill is expected to be released at a Wednesday, September 30, 2009, press conference. As Darren Samuelsohn stated in his New York Times article:

Already last week, several Democratic senators working outside of the Boxer-Kerry camp said their ideas would be melded into the legislation at a later date. "It's going to need a lot of work," said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Yes, indeed.

 

 

Why the Airports and the Aviation Industry Need to Be Concerned About Climate Change: Part One, Facts about Aviation and Climate Change

I.        Introduction

In the grand scheme of things, aviation may not represent a huge source of concern with respect to climate change. But neither should the aviation industry (airports included) ignore the fact that aviation does contribute to climate change not only through the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) but also through the emission of nitrogen oxides (NOx), aerosols and their precursors (soot and sulfate), and increased cloudiness in the form of persistent linear contrails and induced-cirrus cloudiness. The intent of this series of articles is to examine the effect aviation has on climate change, outline the regulatory and legal framework that is developing, and to suggest avenues for the aviation industry to pursue in the future.  The first challenge is to clear up some misconceptions about aviation and climate change so that we can move forward with accurate and up-to-date information.

II.      Some Facts About Aviation and Climate Change

In Aviation and Climate Change: the Views of Aviation Industry Stakeholders, the aviation industry makes several claims regarding the impact aviation has on climate change. First, the industry claims that “over the past four decades, we have improved aircraft fuel efficiency by over 70 percent, resulting in tremendous savings.” As a result, the industry continues, “given the significance of fuel costs to the economic viability of our industry, our economic and environmental goals converge.” Second, the industry claims that “because of our aggressive pursuit of greater fuel efficiency, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from aviation constitute only a very small part of total U.S. GHGs, less than 3 percent.” However, in order to assist the industry in its obligation “to further limit aviation’s greenhouse gas footprint even as aviation grows to meet rising demand for transportation around the world,” those claims of progress need to come under a microscope.

        A.            Contribution of Aviation to Climate Change Remains Subject to Debate

First, how much aviation contributes to climate change is still up to debate. Several governmental and aviation industry organizations have been reporting a “less than 3%” number for quite some time while environmental groups, particularly in Europe, claim that the percentage is anywhere from 5 to 9%. In examining the claims and counterclaims concerning emissions of GHG, one has to be very careful about the language and the metrics used in determining the “impact” any given industry will have on “climate change.” Many reports and studies focus only on CO2, since the amount of CO2 produced both naturally and by humans is overwhelming. However, as just about everyone knows by now, there are other gases and anthropogenic actions that exacerbate climate change. For example, the U.S. EPA recently proposed regulations that would require major emitters of six “greenhouse gases” to report their emissions to the EPA on an annual basis. Those six greenhouse gases are: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorochemicals (PFCs), and other fluorinated 20 gases (e.g., nitrogen trifluoride and hydrofluorinated ethers (HFEs)). It also should be kept in mind when discussing climate change, especially with respect to aviation, that water vapor is estimate contribute anywhere from 36% to 72% of the greenhouse effect. This is important because the radiative forcing effect of cirrus cloud formation from the aircraft is a significant contributor to the greenhouse effect. As pointed out above, it is generally accepted that for aviation the GHGs of concern are CO2, nitrogen oxides (NOx), aerosols and their precursors (soot and sulfate), and increased cloudiness in the form of persistent linear contrails and induced-cirrus cloudiness.

 

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Aviation and Airport Development Updates - September 23, 2009

A summary review of Aviation and Airport Development related news and information that was made public during the past week.  Trisha Ton-Nu also contributed to this post.

  • Honeywell gets FAA okay on runway safety systems.The Federal Aviation Administration has greenlighted Honeywell International Inc.’s SmartRunway and SmartLanding, designed to prevent runway accidents at crowded airports. The systems reinforce standard operating procedures and add “situational awareness” at crowded airports by alerting pilots about runway and taxi locations, unstable approaches and long landings, and when an aircraft is landing too far down the runway to stop safely.  9/16/09, Phoenix Business Journal, http://bit.ly/C3w3B
  • Regulatory abuse by airlines threatens aviation safety. Aircraft Engineers International cites that the largest single cause of the downward trend in aviation safety is the increase in the number of regulatory breaches by airlines that remain uncorrected. Engineers from all over the world will meet in Varna, Bulgaria, from September 23-26, 2009 for the Aircraft Engineers International’s 37th Annual Congress, where they will take a closer look at issues including airlines’ deliberate abuse of aviation regulations to reduce costs, and airworthiness authorities’ adopting a more “hands on” approach to regulation. 9/16/09, Aircraft Engineers International, http://bit.ly/1WQ0gm
  • Feds keep little-used airports in business. Congress has directed $15 billion from an obscure federal program that raises billions of dollars a year through taxes on every airplane ticket sold in the United States to general-aviation airports. General-aviation airports have no scheduled passenger flights and operate separately from the commercial airports that handle almost all passenger flights, and comprise the world’s most expansive and expensive network of airports. Critics contend that the number of subsidized airports with no commercial flights is excessive at a time when larger airports are struggling with delays in air traffic, and that only a few private pilots are benefited. Local residents have also complained about the noise and pollution generated by the little-used airports. 9/17/09, Thomas Frank, USA Today, http://bit.ly/5icdM
  • FAA announces new efforts to respond to safety concerns. Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt announced that the FAA has a new focus on improving the agency’s response to public safety complaints and whistleblower contributions, as well as renewing efforts to ensure consistent interpretation of agency regulations and policies. The FAA will also improve how it communicates and interacts with employees, the public, air carriers, and manufacturers. Administrator Babbitt stated that the FAA’s “number-one customer” is the public, and is implementing changes in communication and interpretation of safety information to maintain a safe U.S. fleet and avoid cancellations. 9/17/09, FAA Press Release, http://bit.ly/RaNXC
  • FAA launches new accident prevention office. The Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Aviation Safety launched a new Accident Investigation and Prevention Service that will integrate the work of the Offices of Accident Investigation and Safety Analytical Services. The new organization will consolidate resources and data from accident and incident investigations, historical accidents and incidents, and voluntarily submitted information from industry programs so the FAA can better understand current risks across the aviation community, and identify emerging vulnerabilities and trends. 9/17/09, FAA Press Release, http://bit.ly/Ifx2M
  • DOT fines Spirit Airlines for violating bumping and other rules. The Department of Transportation has fined Spirit Airlines $375,000 for various rule violations, including bumping passengers from oversold flights without compensating them and failing to resolve baggage claims within a reasonable time. The DOT’s action is being lauded for clearly protecting airline consumers against unfair and deceptive practices, which is a stated part of the Department’s mission. 9/17/09, Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, http://bit.ly/1s4ru5
  • Mountain Home Air Force Base wants more air space. Officials at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho have asked the Federal Aviation Administration to expand the base’s air space deeper into Oregon and Nevada, saying that the expansion would double the effectiveness of the air space and training offered there and potentially making the base more attractive as a future training site for jets more modern and faster than the jets currently housed at the base. If approved, the expansion would increase the air space by nearly 30 percent from the more than 187 square miles the range complex currently covers. 9/17/09, The Associated Press, http://bit.ly/WkklS
  • UAL names Jane Garvey to Board of Directors. United Airlines announced that Jane Garvey, former administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration and President Obama advisor, will be joining the company’s Board of Directors. She was the first woman appointed to the role of FAA administrator and served on the transition team for President Obama, which focused on transportation policies and related infrastructure challenges. She has also advised states on financing strategies to facilitate project delivery for state governments and served as acting administrator and deputy administrator for the Federal Highway Administration. 9/17/09, PRNewswire, http://bit.ly/Bcn5o
  • FAA reauthorization bill pushed back in Senate. The Senate will not pass a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill by September 30, the time the current bill will expire, and both the House and Senate will have to agree to an extension. The bill is being pushed back for an “inevitable fight” over a labor provision that FedEx adamantly opposes. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, wants final passage of the bill postponed but wants the bill considered sometime during this calendar year. 9/17/09, Bartholomew Sullivan, Memphis Commercial Appeal, http://bit.ly/Qn3sI
  • FAA will stop calling airlines “customers.” In a response to complaints that the agency’s relationship with airlines was placing the industry’s economic interests above passenger safety, Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt has said that the FAA will stop calling airlines “customers.” Administrator Babbitt listed several short- and long-term actions, including making the agency’s engineers available around the clock to support safety inspectors assigned to airlines, to improve airline compliance. A spokesman for the Air Transport Association is optimistic, believing the steps will lead to more succinct instructions for incorporating safety directives and leave less chance for technical ambiguity over compliance. 9/17/09, Joan Lowy, http://bit.ly/21aGlT
  • FAA OK’s first step of privatizing New Orleans airport. The Federal Aviation Administration has accepted a preliminary application to lease Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, Louisiana’s largest commercial airport, to a private operator. Under a private operation program approved by Congress, an airport with a private manager could continue to receive FAA funds and grants and collect fees and charges, and the city could use lease proceeds for non-aviation purposes after money was set aside for airport debt service. Up to five public airports have been allowed to participate in the program, and Chicago’s Midway Airport is also considering a privatization plan. The program was started in 1997 to explore privatization as a way of generating private capital for airport projects.  9/17/09, The Associated Press, http://bit.ly/25Neo1
  • IATA Director General asks Obama to make aviation policy a priority. International Air Transport Association Director General Giovanni Bisignani wants the Obama administration to renew its role as a leader in the global aviation industry and make aviation policy a priority. Director General Bisignani has presented several policy recommendations to help in the recovery of the U.S. aviation industry in the areas of safety, security, environment and commercial freedoms, which include putting the NextGen system on a “fast track” to reduce delays at airports and airport emissions. 9/18/09, San Francisco Foreign Policy Examiner, http://bit.ly/LpoGt
  • Boston airport prepares nation’s first green runway. Boston’s Logan International Airport is nearly finished repaving the first runway in the nation with an environmentally friendly material called warm-mix asphalt. The asphalt is heated to a lower temperature than normal, and burns less fuel and emits less carbon. 9/19/09, The Associated Press, http://bit.ly/2XqAhb
  • Will a bigger runway boost the local economy? Carroll County government officials argue that the new, $72 million runway at Carroll County Regional Airport “won’t hurt” in attracting new businesses. Primarily paid for by the Federal Aviation Administration, the new runway will be longer and will have wider separation between the taxiway and runway, making it safer to land there and potentially able to handle more corporate jets. A spokesman for the National Business Aviation Administration said having an airport that can handle corporate aircraft is attractive to companies thinking about where to locate some or all of their businesses, but opponents of the project remain skeptical about the economic benefits or oppose the new runway because of the cost. 9/20/09, Adam Bednar, Carroll County Times, http://bit.ly/y2dix
  • Commentary from Federal Times: Charting a new path for the FAA. Dave Bowen, chief information officer for the Federal Aviation Administrator, states that the FAA’s NextGen initiative will enable digital communication, and digital weather modeling and other capabilities, while supporting a level of air traffic more safely, efficiently, and effectively than current levels. NextGen technology includes Wide Area Augmentation, which provides an additional degree of accuracy and reliability, and Traffic Information Service - Broadcast, which combine together into Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast. With ADS-B, an aircraft would broadcast its Global Positioning System position and receive the broadcasts of other similarly equipped aircraft. While the FAA is working with airlines to get them to put ADS-B equipment in their aircraft, the NextGen initiative as a whole is the “path to the future” for the FAA. 9/21/09, Dave Bowen, Federal Times, http://bit.ly/24CZjo
  • FAA approves first U.S. ground based augmentation system. The Federal Aviation Administration has approved Honeywell’s Smartpath Precision Landing System, which would provide precise navigation service based on the global positioning system. The ground based augmentation system augments GPS by providing precision approach guidance to all qualifying runways at an airport by monitoring GPS signals to detect errors and improve accuracy by transmitting correction measures to aircraft. GBAS has been identified as an enabler for descent and approach operations to increase capacity at crowded airports and will be improved over the next few years. 9/21/09, FAA Press Release, http://bit.ly/10xNLl
  • Senator Barbara Boxer says airline passenger bill of rights is coming. Senator Barbara Boxer says that passengers’ rights legislation is popular in Congress and likely to pass, even over airline industry objections. The senator’s bill would require airlines to provide food, water, and bathrooms to passengers stranded on flights and would force airlines to allow passengers off planes after three hours of sitting. The legislation is currently included in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. Airlines have fought customer-service legislation for over ten years, but Senator Boxer has drawn support from former AMR Corp. and American Airlines chairman Robert Crandall, who believes new rules can be implemented without compromising safety. 9/22/09, Scott McCartney, http://bit.ly/cOau1

IATA goal of halving emissions by 2050 over 2005 levels. The International Air Transport Association stated its goal of cutting emissions in half by 2050 over 2005 levels, through a four-part approach of technology, operational improvements, infrastructure upgrades, and “economic measures.” The airlines plan to present plans by November 2010 to begin trading carbon credits on a global market as part of a global approach to the issue, and to improve carbon efficiency by 1.5% annually through 2020 and show carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards. The industry is on pace to improve carbon efficiency by 1.8% this year, but it is worth noting that with fuel being among the largest expenses at an airline, carriers have a clear and immediate incentive to pursue such gains. 9/22/09, Justin Bachman, BusinessWeek, http://bit.ly/17QP9U

 

Climate Change and Clean Energy Headline U.S. Senate Committee Hearing

John M. Broder, a columnist for the New York Times, writes that:

The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics, military and intelligence analysts say.

Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.

Against this backdrop, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held hearing on Thursday, August 6, 2009, on the climate change bill currently under consideration by Senate after being passed by the House earlier this summer.  According to Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Cal.),  "the hearing will focus "on ensuring that America leads the clean energy transformation as we address the threat posed by climate change.

The battlelines were drawn in the opening statements.  The Democrats emphasized the national security aspects of the failure of the United States to address climate change adequately.  Sen Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said in his opening remarks:

We have also heard from our military leaders that global warming is a serious threat to our national security.  As many as 800 million people are going to face water and cropland scarcity in the next 15 years, setting the stage for conflict and breeding the conditions for terrorism.

These sentiments were echoed by Sen. Cardin (D-Md.) who stated that addressing climate change was "important for national security."

The Republicans seemed to acknowledge the fact that movement on climate change is necessary, but that the energy policy of the United States should focus first and foremost on the economy.  This resulted in Sen. Bond (R-Mo.) calling for off-shore drilling for natural gas and oil, Sens. Voinovich (R-Ohio) and Alexander (R-Tenn.) calling for more nuclear energy, and all of them calling for "Clean Coal," describing the United States the "Saudia Arabia" of coal.  Nuclear energy, in particular because of its "no carbon emissions," is high on the Republican's agenda.

The basic issue between the two parties seems to be this:  the Republicans believe that the status quo should be protected, because the alternative proposed by the Democrats is too costly and uncertain.  The Democrats, on the other hand, believe that while the costs will be high in some sectors, other sectors will pick up the slack.  While Sen. Voinovich is correct that the economy must be protects, Sen. Whitehouse (D-R.I.) is also correct in stating that to

move the government's hands in a way that supports a better clean energy future is not a distrubance in the "state of nature" . . . it's actually making better decisions with the same power we use now.

Panel One:  Views From the Obama Administration

Putting aside for the moment the prepared testimony by the witnesses, the nuclear question was addressed through a question from Sen. Boxer to panel by stating "under the analysis of the House Bill, 161 new 1000 megawatt nuclear power plants would result from that bill."  The panelists confirmed that the cap-and-trade system sets up the market mechanisms that would allow the power and energy companies to move forward with the development of nuclear power plants in addition to solar and wind.

Sen. Inhofe attempted to move the discussion away from climate change and toward the issue of reliance on foreign oil.  His point was that we need to develop our oil reserves that we have here, presumably instead of developing solar, wind and nuclear resources.  Hon. Strickland, from the Interior Department, replied that the Interior Department is moving toward developing all of the natural resources of the United States in "responsible manner."  But that should not mean that we should not also develop "renewable" resources.

Panel Two:  Industry and Environmental Group Representatives

The second panel of the day concentrated a little more on reductions of carbon emissions.  Interestingly enough, Mr. Fehrman of the Mid-American Energy seemed to support a hard cap, without any trading of allowances.  His belief is that introducing market mechanisms only raise the costs for energy companies.  In addition, he believes that carbon capture and sequestration will be "commericially available" in 5 to 10 years. 

On the other hand, Mr. Krupp advocated in favor of cap-and-trade to achieve real emission reductions in the nation.  Mr. Krupp also noted that "carbon capture is ready to roll" - in Norway.  The reason why?  Because there is a price on carbon and the rechonology was developed as a result.

Shortly after the hearing was over, the Senate recessed for the rest of the month of August, leaving the big questions regarding climate change until the Fall.

The witness list and a link to the video webcast of the hearing after the jump.

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