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Quigley Pressures Feds to Address O'Hare Noise Pollution

Mar 18, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), member of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) and Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee, pressured the federal government to implement both short term and long term solutions to increased noise pollution resulting from new traffic patterns at O'Hare International Airport.

Rep. Quigley questioned top federal officials from both the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in this week’s FSGG and THUD Appropriations Subcommittee hearings. 

In response, he released the following statement: 

“The unprecedented noise pollution facing our local communities is a serious problem that warrants urgent action from all levels. This week, I again pressured the federal government to explain why steps have not already been taken to help alleviate the noise issue and pushed for the implementation of both long and short term solutions to address the damaging effects that the increased noise pollution is having on the health, well-being, and property values of my constituents. I am encouraged by the OMB’s commitment to expedite the FAA’s noise study. But, this fight is far from over. As an appropriator with direct oversight of the FAA, I made clear my commitment to make the FAA not just hear the concerns of Illinois’ fifth district but to work swiftly and efficiently to alleviate the noise pollution that my constituents endure each day.”

In Monday’s Appropriations FSGG Subcommittee hearing with OMB Director Shaun Donovan, Rep. Quigley questioned Donovan on the status of the OMB’s review of the FAA’s study of the 65 decibel Day-Night Average Sound Level (DNL) metric, which the FAA uses to determine acceptable noise pollution and cities around the country use as the basis for mitigation efforts. The current 65 DNL metric is outdated and no longer a reliable measure of the real impact of air traffic noise. Expediting 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). During the hearing, Rep. Quigley was able to secure a commitment from Donovan that OMB is working with the FAA and plans to conclude its review of the FAA study in the coming weeks.  

Rep. Quigley questions OMB Director Shaun Donovan in Monday’s Appropriations FSGG Subcommittee Hearing.

In Tuesday’s Appropriations THUD Subcommittee hearing with the head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Michael Huerta, Rep. Quigley pressed 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. Addressing the negative effects of increased noise pollution will require a comprehensive approach that identifies both short and long term solutions. 

A video of Tuesday’s Appropriations THUD Subcommittee hearing with the head of the FAA is available here. Rep. Quigley’s questions occur at the one hour mark and at the one hour and 29 minute mark in the recording.

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). 

Most recently, 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.