New bill would change oversight and environmental review of airport

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February 10, 2014
By: Michelle Bruch
Michelle Bruch

A hearing is already set to discuss airport legislation drafted by State Rep. Frank Hornstein and Sen. Scott Dibble.

The bill would require a more in-depth environmental review of the airport's expansion plans — an updated version of HF 1717 introduced last session. It would also balance out the composition of the airport's Noise Oversight Committee, Hornstein said.

"It's very much tilted toward people from the aviation sector," he said.

He said the bill would give the Legislature more oversight over airport decisions.

"The MAC [Metropolitan Airports Commission] is an appointed agency, not elected. We want a little more accountability," he said.

Hornstein said a hearing on the bill is scheduled for March 4.

The state does not have jurisdiction over Performance Based Navigation (PBN), the proposed national shift to fewer flight paths out of airports. The potential for so-called "highways in the sky" has alarmed some residents of Southwest Minneapolis. Residents formed an advocacy group called MSP FairSkies and they continue to meet with neighborhood groups to explain the situation.

Last fall, Congressman Keith Ellison wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration calling for a broader environmental review of PBN.

"New technology deserves to have a thoughtful review of its effects," Ellison wrote.

In January, MAC spokesman Patrick Hogan said the FAA had not yet made a decision on local PBN implementation.