Airports are an attractive nuisance—they are essential elements to connect a city/region/country to the global economy, and yet at the same time the infrastructure’s environmental impact creates massive local opposition. In this context, much credit is due to the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who has advocated the construction of a new runway at Standstead, the addition of a new airport in the Thames Estuary and the urgency of making a decision. It takes great political courage to make such bold statements.
Such political vision is lacking in the US. The last few Secretaries of Transportation and the recent FAA Administrators have made general statements about the need for added capacity. Their advisories are on a macro basis; federal pronouncements are always likely to be made on a very general perspective. Griggs v. Allegheny County, the seminal case on airport noise liability, found that the local proprietor, not the airline nor the FAA, will pay for the inverse noise condemnation of constructing an airport. That precedent is a large reason why the natural advocates for adding capacity do not make specific recommendations.
As the calendar moves toward this November’s election date, look for gubernatorial and mayoral candidates who have the courage to follow Mayor Johnson’s leadership in urging the addition of much needed capacity.Share this article: