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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 15 - 21, 2003


FAA power grab?

The pattern is familiar: One by one, federal departments and agencies are instructed by the Bush White House to pander to industry and ease up on enforcement of rules and regulations.

Check them off: Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Communications Commission, Energy and down the list, each altering or abandoning rules to accommodate industries over which they once asserted control as a public trust.

Now, the Federal Aviation Administration seems ready to roll over to accommodate aviation interests rather than community interests.

The latest maneuver should be a special outrage for members of Congress who champion local control over Washington control when possible.

Managers of smaller U.S. airports learned in Sun Valley this week of a new proposed FAA strategy that, if not derailed, will gut their authority to set and police standards for noise, safety and aircraft weight to meet the individual demands of communities they serve.

Denver aviation attorney Peter Kirsch told the "resorts airports" section of the American Association of Airport Executives that if community airports accept FAA funds, they’ve made a bargain with the devil: FAA will open airports virtually to any aircraft regardless of noise impact or weight, day or night.

This is devastating news for smaller airports not designed for heavier and larger aircraft, not staffed for round-the-clock operations and that have worked diligently to reduce noise impact on nearby residential areas.

This dramatic shift away from local control of airport operating standards seems driven by politically influential manufacturers and users of larger jets now banned at small airports, and by large new jet leasing companies that want unrestricted access to small airports more convenient for their clients.

One big loser in this new FAA strategy would be Hailey’s Friedman Memorial Airport and its voluntary noise abatement and nighttime curfew programs.

This FAA power grab should be of special alarm to the likes of Idaho Rep. Butch Otter, who led a rousing revolt against President Bush and his Justice Department by convincing a 309-to-118 House majority to strip the Patriot Act of an onerous secret-search provision.

In some matters, Washington may know best. However, in the matter of how airports can be better neighbors, local officials know far better because they’re closer to the problems and the solutions.

If the FAA can’t understand that wisdom, then Congress needs to rebuke the agency and remind President Bush of his 2000 election promises about local control.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.