Representative Tom McMillen, D-4th, is asking the U.S. transportation secretary to kill a set of rules proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration that could water down anti-noise measures at airports.
He says proposed FAA guidelines would allow to airlines to ignore a schedule for phasing out noisy, older model airplanes as required by a national noise law passed by Congress in October.
McMillen was joined Friday by 42 House representatives, including Representative Robert Roe, D-N.J., chairman of the House Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FAA.
The congressmen sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner, asking him to replace the proposal with one more consistent with the intent of the law.
"The problem is that the FAA has gone beyond the intent ofthe legislation," said Brad Fitch, McMillen's press secretary. "It is necessary to reign them in."
The noise law, which puts the FAA in charge of noise reduction,requires airlines to phase out all older model and noisy Stage 2 aircraft by Dec. 31, 1999.
The FAA must come up with a schedule for airlines to eliminate Stage 2 aircraft, with certain goals along the way. For example, the FAA could require every airline to reduce the number of Stage 2 aircraft by up to 50 percent by 1996.
The plan the FAA is proposing would allow an airline that has exceeded noise-reduction goals to sell or transfer the additional operating rights to other airlines.
McMillen says that this plan would undermine the intent of thelaw and leave some airports noisier than they now are.
"Congress intended in the law to have communities across the nation benefit from a gradual phase-out of Stage 2 aircraft," McMillen said in his letter to Skinner. "A lenient period for full compliance was proposed to ensure that operators were not unduly burdened financially in meeting this mandate.
"The proposed rule making does not provide any safeguard to prevent the clustering of older, noisier Stage 2 airplanes at a single airport or in a givenregion . . .Some areas may become more severely impacted because of this policy."
The nation's air carriers support the schedule proposed by the FAA and say the law must be flexible or the cost of compliance will force many financially strapped airlines out of business.
Earlier this month, the FAA held two days of hearings in Virginia on its proposed rules. The agency is scheduled to have two more hearings on the regulations, in Chicago and Seattle. It must issue rules onnational noise restrictions by July 1.