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Congressman Mike Quigley

Representing the 5th District of Illinois

At Quigley's Request, Airplane Noise Study Gets Green Light

Apr 27, 2015
Press Release

CHICAGO – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) announced that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) green-lighted a study by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to reexamine the current metric used to determine acceptable aircraft noise pollution. The announcement follows a commitment Rep. Quigley secured from OMB Director Shaun Donovan to expedite OMB’s approval of the study, which the FAA will use to determine if the current 65 decibel Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) metric should be changed to address excessive airplane noise.

“Every day, residents in Illinois’ Fifth District face the damaging effects of unprecedented noise pollution. Addressing this sound pollution requires swift and urgent action from all levels of government. The current standard the FAA uses to determine acceptable noise levels is outdated and does not accurately reflect the noise pollution that my constituents are experiencing,” said Rep. Quigley. “OMB’s approval of the DNL study brings us one step closer to providing residents with much needed relief. However, this study alone is not enough to address the negative consequences on the health, well-being, and property values of my constituents caused by increased airplane noise. I will continue to use my role as an appropriator to hold the FAA accountable and push for comprehensive long and short term solutions that my constituents deserve.” 

The current 65 DNL metric is outdated and no longer a reliable measure of the real impact of air traffic noise. The 65 DNL has been in place since the 1970s when air traffic volume was far lower than it is today. Since the 65 DNL was introduced, airplane traffic has increased dramatically and is forecasted to continue to do so over the next two decades. The FAA’s DNL study will allow for the establishment of a more reasonable standard and help more individuals qualify for the O’Hare Residential Sound Insulation Program (RSIP). 

O’Hare International Airport became a part of Illinois’ Fifth Congressional District in January 2013. Since then, Rep. Quigley has met continuously with neighborhood organizations and aviation officials to discuss solutions to increased noise pollution resulting from the O’Hare Modernization Program (OMP). In a March hearing of Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Subcommittee, Rep. Quigley pressed FAA Administrator Huerta on the need to lower the 65 DNL metric in the long term but insisted that the FAA work with the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) to provide immediate short term solutions for the communities affected by the O’Hare Modernization Program.  In November, Rep. Quigley, along with Reps. Duckworth and Schakowsky, urged CDA to improve the O’Hare noise complaint process by creating a dedicated O’Hare noise complaint line, manned by personnel versed on the noise issue to begin to get a truly accurate count of constituent complaints. He also pushed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct new public hearings and issue a new environmental impact study (EIS) of the OMP in response to questions raised over the hearing process and noise levels that exceeded expectations. He also called on the FAA to change the outdated noise metric that could allow more homeowners and businesses to qualify for soundproofing programs. In Congress, Rep. Quigley helped create the Quiet Skies Caucus and introduced the Silent Skies Act to help combat aircraft noise on a national basis.