Chair of the DC Fair Skies Coalition Testifies at City Council Budget Meeting

Ed Solomon, chair of the DC Fair Skies Coalition, testified today at a budget hearing held by D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh. The Mayor has included $100,000 in her proposed budget for a study of aircraft noise over D.C., which was referred to Cheh's Committee on Transportation and the Environment. The testimony is below.

"I am an ANC2E Commissioner and President of the DC Fair Skies Coalition that is addressing the noise impact of planes flying over our communities in the District of Columbia. I represent the community associations of Foggy Bottom, Georgetown, Burleith Hillandale, Foxhall, Palisades, Colony Hill and Georgetown University. Five ANC’s,  three in Ward 3 and 2 in Ward 2 have passed motions in support of our efforts.


I also want to thank you for your support.


We manage urban activities and their impacts because certain things are anathema to modern cities that focus on knowledge related activities for their viability.  For example, our land use plans would not permit a nuclear power plant along Rock Creek or a steel foundry in Georgetown despite its industrial history.  These things are anathema to the vision for our city and would destroy the agglomeration benefits that the city would otherwise offer as people and firms would not choose to locate nearby.


Aircraft operations overhead have very real economic costs that include health impacts, pollution, and detrimental changes to land use.  People and businesses do not want to locate near areas of high aircraft traffic.  The economic costs of aircraft noise in the DC area are in fact very large - perhaps of the order of magnitude of hundreds of millions or billions of dollars.  THIS IS A VERY REAL PROBLEM.


Community members representing neighborhoods all over DC, many of which are in Ward 3, have come together to oppose what the FAA has done.  The coalition has raised funds and constituents have devoted thousands of volunteer hours supporting litigation and opposing the FAA’s actions.


In making the changes that have been imposed on us, the FAA failed to engage with the communities that are now suffering from the results of the FAA’s actions.  As you know, the FAA did not even attempt to engage with elected officials in DC before imposing the flight path changes. DC is not alone.  The FAA is facing lawsuits across the country for changes in the flight paths as part of a poorly considered "next gen" modernization of airspace.  In some cases the cities themselves have funded litigation against the FAA, or have funded noise studies similar to the one we are considering today. I am here asking that DC do the same…fund a noise study that DC citizens can use to help find a solution to this very real problem.  We do not have a specific view on where the funds should go to procure the study.  They could go to the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), Office of Attorney General (OAG), or be granted to an organization outside government (e.g. The Citizens Association of Georgetown (CAG) or the DC Fair Skies Coalition to retain an expert witness. We estimate that the cost of such a study would be approximately $300,000.


Thank you again for your past and future support in this fight on behalf of the residents of DC."