Alliance of Residents Concerning O'Hare Inc.
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By facsimile and regular mail

March 31, 2000

The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton, President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Sir:

Our alliance of environmental, health and civic organizations and municipalities is urging you to veto The Wendell H. Ford Aviation Investment & Reform Act for the 21st Century (AIR-21) [HR1000]. Instead, we call on you to order comprehensive, objective health and environmental studies and proper mitigation that includes other means of communication and mass transit.

We ask your veto for the following reasons:

  • Existing environmental and public health safeguards for aviation do not work.
  • This bill will massively increase aviation and hence, its seriously negative aspects that are already unacceptable. These include a reduction in safety, more serious public health problems, significant environmental and upper atmospheric damage, a weak foundation to protect natural quiet in our national parks and many other quality of life issues.
  • Airports and aircraft operations produce extraordinarily massive amounts of serious and deadly pollutants into the air, water and ground and even the present day situation has no restraint and no meaningful solution.
  • Aviation is an enormously polluting industry whose vast quantities of toxics, particulates and carcinogens and other serious deadly pollutants are emitted into the air, water and ground. They are released next to major population centers that ultimately could affect the health of as much as 70% of our nation's population.
  • The waters of the United States are becoming contaminated and perhaps as many as 10% of the nation's aquifers are already contaminated or in danger of being contaminated. The vast majority of municipal water supplies rely, at least in part, on groundwater derived sources. Uncontrolled releases of jet fuel and de-icing and anti-icing chemicals are infiltrating ground water and streams, killing the natural biota and fish. This pollution has also been known to be infiltrating ground water, contaminating aquifers located under or nearby many of the nation's airports. Once these underground resources are contaminated, they are lost forever.
  • As many as 180 million Americans could be affected by aviation-related pollution. Recent studies have identified serious health problems for people living and working even many miles away from airports, and the Environmental Protection Agency predicts that aviation-related pollution will substantially increase within the next decade.
  • Accordingly, documentation shows that people living near airports are exposed to a higher cancer risk and not surprisingly, statistics indicate that these individuals are experiencing a higher cancer rate for a number of diseases such as brain tumors, esophageal, laryngeal and lung cancer, much higher rates of asthma, pregnancy complications, influenza and pneumonia, along with a shorter life expectancy, similar to that of a third world country.
  • Over 10 million American school children's cognitive development, motivation and education is being damaged by the constant bombardment of unacceptable levels of aviation noise at homes and schools located around our nation's airports. These are the same children also being injured by uncontrolled and unreported hazardous and toxic air and water pollution released from aviation operations. The long-term damage these children are experiencing is an untold horror. What is the future of our country, if we continue to expand this most polluting industry? And especially, what is the gain?
  • A report from the General Accounting Office dated February 2000, Aviation and the Environment, shows that aviation high altitude emissions have demonstrated to have great effects on global warming and need further study. In addition, referring to climate change caused by jet contrails radiation effects Patrick Minnis, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration researcher states, "The number of clear days over the U.S. has decreased in the last 30 years, and we suspect that much of that is due to an increase in cirrus clouds, which we suspect is probably due to an increase in air traffic." Other GAO reports on aviation emissions and noise are expected to be released this summer.
  • There are other alternatives to expanding aviation. Teleconferencing, high-speed rail, other modes of mass transportation are but a few. Aviation is the most polluting form of transportation in the world and an inefficient use of fossil fuel for regional travel.

Sir, we recognize the importance of aviation for long distance operations, but, for all these negative reasons and more, the below mentioned alliance of organizations petition you to veto this harmful bill for the American public.

Thank you.


Airport Environmental Coalition, Baltimore, MD
Airport Neighbors Alliance, Albuquerque, NM
Alliance of Municipalities Concerning Air Traffic, Rutherford, NJ
Alliance of Residents Concerning O'Hare, Arlington Heights, IL
American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago, Chicago, IL
Boulder County Citizens Against Aviation Noise, Boulder, CO
Citizens Against Airport Pollution, San Jose, CA
Citizens Against Noise of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI
Citizens Against Property Devaluation, Port Townsend, WA
Citizens Against Reckless Expansion, Dayton, OH
Citizens Against SEATAC Expansion, Burien, WA
Citizens Against Sikorski Airport Expansion, Stratford, CT
Citizens for Airport Accountability, Reno, NV
Citizens for Airport Safety & Environment, Prospect Heights, IL
Citizens Concerned About Jet Noise, Virginia Beach, VA
Citizens for Control of Airport Noise, Naples, FL
Citizens for Responsible Airport Development, Portland, OR
Citizens for the Abatement of Aircraft Noise, Washington, DC
City of Fairveiw, Fairview, TX
City of Olmsted Falls, Olmsted Falls, OH
City of Park Ridge, IL
Communities Against Runway Expansion, Boston, MA
Concerned Citizens Coalition, New Bedford, MA
Earth Island Institute, San Francisco, CA
East Haven/New Haven Committee for the Protection of Property Rights, East Haven, CT
El Cid Historic Neighborhood Association, West Palm Beach, FL
El Toro Airport Info Site, Dana Point, CA
Environmental Health Coalition, San Diego, CA
Guilford Residents Against Sprawl and Pollution, Greensboro, NC
Helicopter Noise Coalition of New York City, New York, NY
International Resource Center for the Chemically Induced Immune Disorders, Franklin Park, IL
Lake County Conservation Alliance, Wadsworth, IL
Massachusetts Audubon Society, Lincoln, MA
Maui Air Traffic Association, HI
MCS: Health and Environment, Evanston, IL
Mesa Community Alliance, Mesa, AZ
Mothers Against Airport Pollution, Arlington Heights, IL
NO to RAPE, Reno, NV
Old Louisville Information Center, Louisville, KY
Olmsted Township, Olmsted Falls, OH
Oregon-Citizens Aviation Watch, Lake Oswego, OR
PDX-Citizens Aviation Watch, Portland, OR
Peninsula Aircraft Noise/Safety Information Committee, Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA
Piedmont Quality of Life Coalition, Greensboro, NC
Ramonans for Sensible Growth, Ramona, CA
Residents Opposed to Airport Racket, Minneapolis/St.Paul, MN
Rewana Farms Neighborhood, Reno, NV
Rosedale Civic Association, Rosedale, NY
Safeguarding the Historic Hanscom Area's Irreplaceable Resources, Concord, MA
Sane Aviation for Everyone, Howard Beach, NY
Save Our Heritage, Concord, MA
South Metro Airport Action Council, Minneapolis, MN
Taxpayers for Responsible Planning, TRP-AZ
United Community Civic Association, Jackson Heights, NY
US-Citizens Aviation Watch Association, Arlington Heights, IL
Village of Itasca, IL
We The People, Taylorsville, UT
Witham Airport Action Majority, Stuart, FL

c: John Podesta
Legislative Affairs