2002-10-19 / Letters

First Chicago, Then Queens

First Chicago, Then Queens

First Chicago, Then Queens

Dear Editor;

This letter was sent to Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer.

The National Aviation Capacity Expansion Act (S. 2039 & HR 3479 PCS), if enacted, will result in a doubling of the aircraft traffic at Chicago O'Hare Airport to about two million flights annually. If this is happening in Chicago, it will be happening in New York very soon.

Airports and aircraft produce massive amounts and unusual types of toxic air, water and ground pollution that significantly affects a large percentage of the population.

O'Hare operations today, emit thousands of tons of noxious material into the air...enough to fill 120 football stadiums 100 feet deep...and this all moves through our neighborhoods and into our homes!

Besides the significant damage that commercial jet aircraft do to cause "climate change" and impact our quality of life, the upsurge in flights will mean a tremendous increase in deaths caused by O'Hare and its aircraft operation's emissions. Studies already show strong correlations that O'Hare Airport and its aircraft operations kill hundreds of people a year in these areas, from cancer alone.

The increase in flights will cause a tremendous increase in ground level ozone and other toxic pollutants caused by jet exhaust. Chicago's own study of O'Hare shows that O'Hare is the worst hazardous and toxic polluter in the whole state of Illinois. Data from both the Illinois and U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies show that O'Hare's aircraft alone emit more Volatile Organic Compounds than those from all Illinois electric power plants combined, with Carbon Monoxide emissions as much as 60% of that total! Adding the associated ground, mobile and stationary emissions would double that!

In fact, O'Hare's operations release hundreds of different toxic and "criteria" chemicals into our environment in quantities of many thousands of tons per year (yes, that's thousands of tons)! New modern aircraft are more deadly because of technology trade-offs and other important issues.

This increase in an already toxic environment will mean more children and adults getting asthma and other respiratory diseases, more cancers of many types, including brain, breast and lung, heart disease, stroke and many other airport poisoning related diseases.

The air transportation lobby has given Congress and candidates approximately $20 million in the last year or so, about $3.5 million in the first half of this year to lobby Congress, one reason was to pitch their bill as a "Chicago Only Bill" to give Congress the cover needed to vote for it. The bill sets horrible precedent for all other airports, taking away state's and our environmental rights and the ability to better our whole transportation system. It was defeated the first time it came up in the House; just one week later, after the lobbyists did their dirty deed, it passed.

How could you, Senator Schumer, possibly vote for this bill when it will be a death sentence for thousands of O'Hare neighbors who will get cancers and other diseases that will result from the passage of the bill you are co-sponsoring?

How could you, Senator Clinton, vote for a bill that will seriously harm the citizens of your hometown, Park Ridge, which already significantly suffers from the airport-poisoning related diseases?

This is not a "Chicago only bill"!  Besides the horrible precedent it sets, there are sections of the bill that are generic to any state and any airport in our country.  If this bill passes, JFK and LaGuardia airports neighbors, which we have discovered already have expansion plans, will be left unprotected, like O'Hare's neighbors.

We do not need, nor do we want increases in air traffic near O'Hare or Queens (which already has the dirtiest air and the most noise of the five boroughs) or other New York City suburbs.

Over one million people around the airport oppose the O'Hare expansion, including the President of the Illinois State Senate Pate Philip, Congressmen Henry Hyde and Philip Crane and U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald, whose districts include O'Hare.  They, along with many suburban mayors, many other officials, scientists and health officials such the eminent Dr. Samuel Epstein of Illinois School of Public Health - all oppose the backroom deal between the Chicago Mayor and the Illinois Governor.

The intent of National Aviation Capacity Expansion Act ("To expand aviation capacity") is to enable the air transportation industry to tighten the arm-lock around the neck of the U.S. transportation system.  It stops the better long-term alternatives that a Government Accounting Office report (GAO-02-185) states that we need to modernize our whole transportation system and that expanding existing airports, including O'Hare, is not a good choice.

  The recommendations of the report include: 1) taking this issue away from the Federal Aviation Administration because of its closeness to the industry; 2) reinstituting operational and management controls, such as keeping the "high density rule"; 3) sending unnecessary connecting flights to Wayports ("Highways in the Skies"), that would make room for the desired, new international flights that will result from economic globalization treaties, which will create meaningful jobs; and, 4) provide that our country and our region build a world-class high-speed rail system that will compliment commercial air transport to achieve a balanced and sustainable intermodal transportation system that will benefit all of us.

    These are the facts, and I would be happy to publicly debate any authority on this issue.  Throughout our United States, hundreds, perhaps thousands of cities and towns oppose airport expansion and/or operations for many of the reasons that I have stated.

  Senators, do what is best for your citizens and our country; oppose the National Aviation Capacity Expansion Act and the many other industry-related cluster bills that will harm our environment and us!




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