A Few People Hate Airport Noise, and Everyone Pays

By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2016 8:52 AM CDT
Loud and Frustrated Few Drive Airport Noise Policies
A plane takes off from Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

In 2015, a whopping 8,760 noise complaints were made at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in DC. A little digging reveals that 6,852 of those complaints (almost 80%) came from one household. And yes, that's more than 18 calls a day for a year. Similar stories play out in other cities, with a single individual making hundreds and sometimes thousands of calls. So report researchers in a paper called "Airport Noise NIMBYism" for the libertarian Mercatus Center at George Mason University. (NIMBY stands for "Not In My Backyard.") The authors aren't shying away from their displeasure over such a select few possibly dictating federal standards. One of the authors, Eli Dourado, writes on Twitter that it "turns out we are letting crazy people make airport noise policy."

While the circumstances of these callers may be "sympathetic," the researchers write that "it would be a mistake to allow the preferences of a vocal but minuscule minority ... impede much-needed improvements in aviation." They argue that the FAA's noise limitations, which are based in part on caller complaints, can slow airport infrastructure improvements, increase the cost of flights, and drive up carbon emissions when, say, holding patterns are established for being less noisy even if they are also less fuel-efficient, reports Quartz. Still, Minnesota Public Radio takes issue with the "generally anti-regulation organization" not trying harder to "hide its distaste" for the vocal minority, because compromise "doesn't happen by calling people 'crazy.'" (One group says just because one person calls so much doesn't mean the noise isn't problematic.)

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