Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

Airport noise may decrease with Neguse's proposed act


January 1, 2020

According to statistics from the Boulder Municipal Airport (BMA), in 2017 there were 33 total complaints regarding aircraft noise. These statistics go back as far as 2009 and even though the number of complaints fluctuate over the years, frustration with the noise is consistent, if not growing.

“There’ve been a lot of strong feelings about this for quite a long time,” said Gunbarrel resident Kate Chandler. “I want to move, I can’t sit on my porch, forget it. I can’t have a conversation, that’s how loud it is.”

These strong feelings that Chandler described are held by more than just individual community members. In fact, a number of residents have banded together to form Citizens for Quiet Skies (CQS). Boulder’s group is just one of a myriad of groups protesting aviation noise and trying to find a solution for it. In fact, one of the largest groups doing this is the Quiet Skies Coalition. This group is made up of the national organization as well as at least 12 official state branches and various other associated or similarly minded groups. It is also affiliated with the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus.

As for Boulder’s group, CQS formed in 2011, with many of its original members hailing from North Boulder, Gunbarrel, unincorporated Boulder County, and Longmont. Organizer Kim Gibbs said, “We work with some groups [who seek aviation noise regulation], are loosely affiliated with others, but support all who seek quieter skies. There are lots of groups across the country.”

They are and have been quite active, even going so far as to file a lawsuit against local company Mile-Hi Skydiving in 2015. However, at present, much of their focus has shifted toward spreading information about aviation noise, which is largely unregulated. They have been working with local communities and even Representative Joe Neguse in the effort of combating the issue.

Consequently, Neguse recently introduced legislation to the U.S. House of Representatives that proposes that general aviation airports may self-impose restrictions regarding noise. At present, airports must go through the Federal Aviation Administration in order to pursue restrictions of this nature.

Some airports like BMA and Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (RMMA) have voluntary noise abatement programs. However, given their voluntary status, it is unclear how strongly they are enforced. BMA’s web page describing noise abatement procedures simply says that “pilots are asked to be aware of noise-sensitive neighborhoods,” but little else is said about the program’s implementation.

Some people are skeptical that the act will pass and believe it will instead face ardent protest from the FAA and other aviation groups. But Neguse argues that local airports are in the best position to create noise regulations given they know what is important to their individual communities. His proposed act is already supported by a number of local leaders, including the mayors of Superior and Louisville.. He is optimistic for his bill, especially given that 45 members of the U.S. House of Representatives belong to the congressional branch of the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus.

“It’s very difficult to get action from the federal level, so we’re very grateful to Congressman Neguse,” said Gibbs, “It [aviation noise] is completely unregulated, it’s increasing, and there needs to be some kind of local control. We’re delighted that Congressman Neguse is supporting his constituents by supporting this bill.”


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