Blumenthal plotting legal action against FAA

John O'Brien Sep. 6, 2007, 1:35pm


HARTFORD, Conn. - Wednesday's decision by the Federal Aviation Agency to reroute airplanes over the southern part of the state upset a lot of powerful people in Connecticut, including Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.

Blumenthal said Thursday a legal challenge can be successful against the plan, which takes planes bound for and leaving from two New York airports, Westchester County and LaGuardia, over southern Connecticut.

"A powerful legal coalition can defeat this misguided plan because the FAA failed to consider the harmful effect of its proposed new flight pattern on our environment and quality of life," Blumenthal said.

"I have begun to assemble this coalition, combining state and local authorities, to challenge the FAA's rerouting projects as legally flawed and environmentally clueless."

A report in The Advocate of Stamford quoted several unhappy lawmakers and officials, including U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Bridgeport.

"I am very disappointed in today's FAA decision," Shays said. "I do not believe the FAA has addressed the quality-of-life concerns of residents affected by the airspace redesign, nor seriously considered alternatives that would lessen the impact on residents in the fourth district.

"I hope to continue to work with Senators (Joseph) Lieberman and (Christopher) Dodd to block this redesign proposal through the appropriation process."

Blumenthal may prove vital in that process.

"One of our key points: the FAAA has ignored its clear legal obligation to consider feasible alternatives that would reduce air traffic delays with far less damage to natural resources and quality of life," Blumenthal said. "Arrogantly and improperly, the FAA has disregarded its duty to listen -- refusing to hold sufficient hearings for views and voices of citizens to be heard."

The FAA's decision is intended to relieve some of the congestion in the New York-New Jersey-Philadelphia area. The agency says the plan will reduce delays and jet-fuel emissions, as well as providing other benefits.

"This new concept in airspace design will help us handle the rapidly growing number of flights in the Northeast in a much more efficient way," FAA Administrator Marion C. Blakey said. "This airspace was first designed in the 1960s and has become much more complex. We now need to look at creative new ways to avoid delays."

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