The FAA decision that many airport area residents feared but expected came down Tuesday: Permitting commercial passenger service at Paine Field will not have significant adverse effects on the community.
The decision reinforced the agency’s previous conclusion that pollution, traffic, noise and other consequences of commercial jet traffic would not be significant enough to require a thorough environmental review.
Two airlines had previously indicated an interest in using Paine Field for commercial service – Alaska/Horizon and Allegiant.
During the three years the FAA took to come to its decision, Horizon decided it was no longer interested, and would focus on Sea-Tac instead.
But Las Vegas-based Allegiant continues to express interest. A spokesman said they would like to start with four flights per week, increasing to about 20 per week over the next five years.
In September, the FAA said adding up to 23 flights per day would not have a significant adverse impact on the surrounding communities.
Needless to say, opponents of the decision have a different view.
The city of Mukilteo, which has set aside a legal fund of more than $150,000 to fight Paine Field expansion, will likely appeal the decision, Mayor Joe Marine said.
But their approach won’t be known until city officials sit down with their attorney on Thursday, he said.
“I think that it’s what we all expected, and they’ve taken close to three years to do what we anticipated that they would, which is tell us no significant impact because they didn’t fully study all the projections for commercial flight activity, so of course that is the conclusion they would come to,” Marine said.
Greg Hauth, vice president of the citizens’ group Save Our Communities, was even more critical.
“I think the FAA has just completely failed to follow environmental law,” Hauth said.
He pointed out the FAA looked at a limited number of flights in reaching its conclusion, but now the door is open to many more flights than the FAA considered.
“Their studies finding that there is no significant impact is egregious, because they have not done the studies properly at all,” he said.
“They are charged to do reasonable foreseeable accumulative impacts, and all they did was take a tiny slice of activity and conclude no significant impacts. It’s the willful ignorance of the environmental law that is egregious.”
Hauth urged the city to take legal action.
“We expect the city of Mukilteo to fight this, and we’re going to fight it and we hope citizens will respond and fight it as well,” he said.
Posted on December 5, 2012 at 9:52 pm Shawna Brenneke