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            September 25, 2003

 Comments from the ALLIANCE OF RESIDENTS CONCERNING O’HARE, Inc. to the Town Hall Meeting on O’Hare Expansion by Jack Saporito

              The Alliance of Residents Concerning O’Hare is the leading organization protecting the public’s health, safety and welfare.  We represent residents in 41 communities, including airport workers and many top experts; thus, we bring strong, factual evidence to the table.

                 People mistakenly associate aviation with “high-tech” fixes and airport expansion with “modernization”; neither is true regarding the issues we are dealing with.  Expanding O’Hare is not wise for many reasons:

             The Industry is the Least Sustainable Form of Transportation:  It expends a significant portion of the world’s oil supply and very soon, will cause an extreme imbalance in the “supply/demand” equation.  What happens to ticket, cargo and mail prices then?

             One of the many lies is that O’Hare Airport is the primary “economic  engine”.  However…the numbers clearly show that O’Hare is not:  Economists credit our diverse economic base for the net earnings in Chicago of 74% and the State of Illinois’ gross product increase of 69% between 1990 and 2000.  Certainly a small 12% growth in O’Hare flights cannot take credit.  If anything, the flight increases were a result of the economic growth.

             I don’t know why anyone with common sense listens to air execs for transportation solutions.  Even with all the huge subsidies and government support, this privately owned aviation industry has cumulatively lost money ever since its inception. 

             Using the Daily Herald figures: the O’Hare expansion, infrastructure, bonding and other interest costs could be in excess of $32 billion!  Thus, a key question is: where is the money for expansion coming from?  The answer is We, the taxpayer and it will rob us and our children of our future.

             Where are the Sierra Club and other groups?  Despite Chicago’s and the state of Illinois’ purposeful minimization, there are significant public health impacts:  Data from both the state of 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! 

             A recent prestigious eight state-EPA study’s found that collectively, the aircraft alone at Boston’s Logan, Bradley, and Manchester airports emitted 3,538 tons of NOx, 4,461 tons of CO, and 700 tons of HC in 1999.  The combined aircraft-related benzene emissions were 20 tons at the three airports in 1999.  By startling comparison, aggregate benzene emissions from the largest stationary sources in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire combined totaled only six tons in 1996.  Most alarming, is that those three airports together, do not have as many flights or generally as large aircraft as O’Hare.

            In fact, extrapolation of the study’s findings clearly demonstrate the fact O’Hare, with all of its related aircraft operations, is among the worst, if not the worst, man-made air polluter in at least the whole United States!

             O’Hare is not only a major U.S. regional polluter but it is also a horrible local source polluter.  It is basically a functioning major city that has mega aircraft operations; however, it is located on only about four (4) square miles of land in a densely populated area.  Accordingly, a new O'Hare/Peotone study shows that 8.3 million people's health is affected by O'Hare operations, 5.5 million significantly so.

             O’Hare is a major reason that we have some of the highest cancers and other airport-poisoning disease rates in America.  Studies show O’Hare is responsible for the deaths of at least hundreds of people each year from cancer alone.

             Mothers and our schools should be enraged that their babies will get a lifetime worth of exposure to toxins in just the first 2-3 years of life, mainly because of that airport.

             Pollution from O’Hare results in increased healthcare costs: approximately $7.045 billion per year for just cancer not taking into consideration all of the respiratory or other airport-poisoning related diseases.

             Addressing the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) position on the environmental process, the airport expansion is not a done deal.  It is our job to make sure that they do their job in protecting us from the devastating public health and environmental impacts from this airport and also, this expansion.  Nationally, I have been involved in about 100 of these environmental processes.  In Louisville, working with the activists and community there, we were able to get a whole town moved 10 miles away to protect them.  Certainly here in Chicago, at one of the world’s busiest and dirtiest airports, the FAA and Environmental Protection Agency and officials would have to do at least the same to protect the millions that are affected here.

             Representative Mulligan, you know we have a small mountain of studies on O’Hare and other airports for public viewing at: .

             Obviously in pushing this expansion, Daley and Blagojevich don’t care about the living, our children or the dead in St. John’s and Rest Haven Cemeteries and; it’s all about is greed, power and massive corporate welfare!

             O’Hare expansion is a huge waste of taxpayer’s money and will not fix congestion in the air and on the ground; it will only make it worse.  We need to modernize O’Hare into a more balanced, inter-modal U.S. transportation system.

 Some of the answers are:

  1. Take the issue away from the FAA and make this a transportation issue not just an aviation issue.
  2. Put back the operational and management controls whose removal started the massive airport delays we saw in 1990.
  3. Build a Wayport system.
  4. Build a world-class high-speed rail

             Expanding O’Hare is not compatible with the Wayport system and high-speed rail.

             If you don’t believe us, believe the independent research body of Congress, the U.S. Government Accounting Office.  Much of what I have stated is backed up now by two reports.  We stand with the GAO in opposing O’Hare expansion.

 Thank you.


Additional notes:  Since we followed the FAA in our presentation, we made the following ad hoc comments regarding their testimony:

            “To further the issue of the FAA’s claim that NEPA will protect you in this process, I want to point our that there is a Presidential Order and a bill (HR 2115) that was passed earlier by both Houses of Congress and is now out of Conference and may be up for a vote this fall session. 

            What they do is shortcut and/or take away your environmental protections under the NEPA process that the FAA just explained.  This is because airport and airline executives know that they cannot expand at least most major airports under existing Clean Air and Water Act laws.

            The Order and bill make airport expansions at major airports like O’Hare mandatory, cutting the health and soul out of the National Environmental Protection Act.  Therefore, reasonable alternatives (or better alternatives in this case) like high-speed rail and Wayports are non-existent.”

                Also: "The Chamber's plan is to make this appear that it is a done deal but nothing could be further from the truth.  You can see the Chamber's plan on our website at: "