Photo credit: Ken Lund licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

by Mary Reese, Annapolis representative to the DC Metroplex BWI Community Roundtable

Legislation is being considered by the Maryland General Assembly (MGA) that would create an independent, community-led body with a budget for research and analysis of aviation-related impacts on communities surrounding its state owned airports, most notably Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The initiative seeks to manage growth of aviation infrastructure by balancing aviation industry interests with the interests of communities. To do so, it will give citizens a seat at the table in the governing process of aviation infrastructure.

If passed, the legislation will establish a 5-year Maryland Aviation Infrastructure Impacts Commission comprised of community members and health and environmental experts appointed by the MGA and the governor. The commission will have a budget and the legal standing to make vetted recommendations regarding aviation infrastructure directly to the legislature and administrative bodies that preside over airport capital projects.

Recommendations for mitigation of sound and exhaust exposures may include operational changes like establishment of nighttime quiet hours, caps on maximum operations, and caps on maximum noise levels to be pursued through the Federal Aviation Regulations Part 161 process as well as changes to state regulations including its airport noise zone certification process.

Testimony in support of the legislation included submissions by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition; Rick Neitzel, PhD, MS, CIH, FAIHA, University of Michigan School of Public Health; Neelakshi Hudda, PhD, MS, Tufts University Dept. Civil and Environmental Engineering; Zafar Zafari, M.Sc, PhD, University of Maryland School of Pharmacy; Arline Bronzaft, PhD, Professor Emerita, City University of New York; Jamie Banks, PhD, MSc, Founder and President of Quiet Communities Inc.; and Anne Hollander, President, Montgomery County Quiet Skies Coalition, Ltd.

Progress of the companion bills and additional details may be viewed on the MGA website.

Mary Reese is a former naval officer who lives in Annapolis, Maryland. She has twice served as chair of the BWI Roundtable and is in her fifth year of work to resolve noise and emission concerns at BWI Marshall.