Clarity Needed On Legislative Intent of CatEx2 Categorical Exclusion

An October 24, 2014 article published by the Airport Noise Report (Volume 26, Number 35) indicated that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is being urged by legal experts, community representatives, and airport representatives to ask the United States Congress for clarification on the legislative intent of specific provisions for the CatEx2 categorical exclusion pertaining to a "Net Noise Reduction Method" when evaluating environmental effects associated with implementation of measures mandated in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The Modernization Act includes implementation of Performance-based Navigation (PBN/RNAV). The FAA is required to designate PBN/RNAV procedures as categorical exclusions under CatEx2 if they "...would result in measureable reductions in fuel consumption, carbon dioxide emissions, and noise, on a per flight basis, as compared to aircraft operations that follow existing instrument flight rules procedures in the same airspace."

During its meeting on September 17, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) Noise Oversight Committee (NOC) agreed unanimously that the FAA should seek clarification on the legislative intent of CatEx2 because it "...is a fatal flaw that completely undercuts the documented needs in the FAA design and implementation process." In addition, former FAA attorney Steven Tabor wrote in docket comments: ”An executive branch agency cannot change the wording of the statute itself. If there are issues with the plain meaning of the statute that make carrying out the statute impractical, then the proper response is [to] request that Congress change the wording of the statute.”

A copy of the letter sent by the NOC to the FAA is available here: NOC Letter to the FAA.