On April 21, Lorraine Bolsinger, president and CEO of GE Aviation Systems, asked for the U.S. House Aviation Subcommittee’s leadership in expediting the environmental review process for NextGen implementation.
“The transformation of our air transportation system has the potential to reduce carbon emissions that threaten our planet,” said Bolsinger. “Fuel efficiencies brought about through NextGen can lessen our dependence on foreign oil and help control rising energy costs, while strengthening the U.S. aviation industry, preserving existing jobs and creating new ones. Forty years ago, Congress passed NEPA, the National Environmental Policy Act, a landmark piece of legislation that makes us stewards of our environment. It’s unfortunate that 40 years after the passage of NEPA, the FAA’s well-intentioned efforts to apply the law have, instead, become a major obstacle to achieving NextGen environmental benefits.”
The Federal Aviation Administration, like any government agency, must comply with NEPA requirements. Currently, environmentally beneficial navigation procedures are subjected to the same expensive and time-consuming review process as procedures that adversely affect the environment.
“This review process is ill-defined and very costly,” said Bolsinger. “Multiply this by roughly 1,200 or so new procedures that will be required to modernize airspace at our largest 100 airports and you begin to see the magnitude of the problem.”
Bolsinger outlined the application of a new, expedited environmental approval process when a new navigation procedure meets the following three-part test:
1. It reduces an aircraft’s CO2 emissions,
2. It reduces fuel burn and,
3. It results in a reduction or no net increase in the noise-affected area on the ground.
Congress has the opportunity to take action now, to require FAA to develop this expedited environmental approval process as it conferences the FAA Reauthorization bill.
The testimony was presented to chairman Jerry Costello, ranking member Tom Petri and members of the Subcommittee. Bolsinger was on a panel with Karlin Toner, the head of the Joint Planning and Development Office (JPDO), and representatives from DOD, NASA, the Government Accountability Office and Calvin Scovel III, the Department of Transportation Inspector General.
GE continues to work with Congress, with the FAA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality and other interested stakeholders to accelerate the delivery of environmental benefits in our National Airspace through NextGen.