FAIR-Emanuel Meeting: What Now?

Representatives of Fair Allocation in Runways (FAIR) met with Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday, January 27, only to have the Mayor tell them that he would “probably not” respond to noise and pollution complaints as the group had hoped. In other words, he is going to allow the demolition of the two remaining east-west diagonal runways to proceed.

Despite nearly three years of citizen complaints about noise and jet fuel pollution over north and northwest side City neighborhoods, the Mayor has chosen to continue the expansion of O’Hare Airport. The City is funding a new runway and the building of a road to make the airport more accessible.

Under current law, the City’s Commissioner of Aviation, Ginger Evans, needs only a go-ahead from the Mayor to implement plans that have had a devastating impact on City and suburban residents.

However, Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41) has introduced an ordinance that would require City Council approval before the demolition could take place; not surprisingly, it has little support in the Council so far.

Residents of Phoenix faced a similar impasse last year, when flight paths were changed without notice and produced mind-numbing noise. Despite protests by citizens to their Congressional representatives, no headway was made (see report from Rep. Ruben Gallego) until November of 2015, when the U.S. Senate approved an amendment to the HUD Appropriations Bill sponsored by Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake that requires the FAA to engage with local citizens before such flight path changes are made in the future. The amendment applies throughout the country.

FAIR’s petition to the Governor, the Mayor, and other city, state, and federal officials can be signed via its Web site. Deadline for signatures is February 28, 2016.


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