Environmental Effects of Airport Development:

Better Assessment Needed

CED-78-156: Published: Aug 22, 1978. Publicly Released: Aug 22, 1978.

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Airports are having difficulty gaining acceptance by neighboring communities because of environmental impacts such as noise, air quality, displacement of people and businesses, and disruption of communities. The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 requires federal agencies to prepare environmental impact statements on proposals for major federal actions which affect the environment.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a broad definition of what constitutes a major federal action and does not require an environmental finding for an airport's total planned development. Instead, it allows projects in airport plans to be assessed individually. Such a requirement would: (1) further environmental objectives; (2) ensure that consideration is given to alternatives available to minimize adverse environmental effects; (3) provide a forum for public comments; and (4) eliminate the need for most extensive environmental reviews for follow-on airport projects. FAA makes grants to finance airport master plans and airport development projects. However, in approving grants, FAA has not always followed its instructions which require consideration of the overall effects of major airport projects and subsequent projects.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: FAA should: (1) require an environmental finding for airport plans; (2) remind its staff that they are responsible for obtaining environmental findings which consider the cumulative effect of present projects and the consequences of subsequent projects; and (3) provide the necessary staff to ensure compliance with its environmental instructions.

    Agency Affected:


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