Burien Successfully Challenges FAA SeaTac Flight Path Change

May 16, 2017

A King 5 news report announced a decision by the FAA to stop a 2016 SeaTac flight path change that resulted in a dramatic increase in jet traffic over Burien. Due to extensive community outcry in conjunction with strong support from the City of Burien, the FAA backed down. See "Burien Declares Victory In Battle with FAA Over Flight Noise". for additional information and to access the report.

According to a February 14, 2017 petition filed on behalf of the City of Burien in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by attorneys Matthew Adams and Jessica Duggan from Dentons US LLP law firm in San Francisco,

"In the summer of 2016, without notice to the City or its residents, the FAA began experimenting with the New Route, resulting in significant noise impacts to parks, schools, residential neighborhoods, and other noise-sensitive areas...The City and its residents have suffered - and will continue to suffer - significant adverse impacts as a result of the FAA's New Route."

See http://burienwa.gov/DocumentCenter/View/6913 to review petition. An additional media report on this topic is available at http://q13fox.com/2017/04/17/burien-sues-faa-to-stop-flights-overhead.

Congratulations to the Quiet Skies Coalition of Burien and the City of Burien for mounting this successful challenge.

5/4/17 Hillsboro Airport Master Planning Committee Meeting

April 30, 2017

The second Hillsboro Airport (HIO) Master Planning Committee meeting is scheduled for:

Date: Thursday, May 4, 2017
Time: 5:30 - 8:30 PM
Location: Hillsboro Civic Center
Address: 150 E. Main St., Hillsboro 97123

Draft minutes and other informational materials from the first meeting, held on February 27, 2017, are available at the Port of Portland (Port) website at: Hillsboro Airport Master Plan.

The HIO Master Planning Committee was formed to explore the future role of the airport. The potential for drone training at this facility will also be under consideration.


HIO - Primarily a Flight Training Airport

The Port of Portland has owned and operated the Hillsboro Airport for over 50 years. The majority of flights at this facility are primarily on behalf of the flight training industry, especially Hillsboro Aero Academy (formerly Hillsboro Aviation), an international flight training school that contracts with China's state owned airlines and other foreign interests to provide pilot instruction to overseas pilots. Per the company's website: "Since 1980, thousands of professional pilots from over 75 countries have graduated from our flight training courses."

The noise and toxic pollution caused by flight training activity in combination with the other tenants and users of the airport has a direct impact on the health, well-being, and livability of area residents, who have historically been denied a democratic voice in the decision making process.

PCC - Flight Training, Noise and Toxic Pollution

Portland Community College (PCC) Aviation Science students are also major contributors to the negative impacts posed by this airport. PCC helicopter and airplane student pilots contract with Hillsboro Aero Academy for the flight training portion of their education.

A 6/4/13 Portland Tribune article on the Troutdale Airport, which is also owned and operated by the Port, sheds additional light on the significant role PCC plays in increasing aviation noise and pollution throughout the greater Portland Metropolitan area. To access the article, see Troutdale flight school is international cockpit for pilots.

As stated in the Tribune, "Hillsboro Aviation's Troutdale facility was opened on behalf of a request by Portland Community College to help grow their aviation flight program..."

HIO and Lead Toxicity

As a result of the symbiotic relationship between the Port of Portland, PCC and the aviation industry, Hillsboro Airport is now releasing a ton or more of lead into the air each year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), HIO is the largest facility source of airborne lead emissions in Oregon. In addition it ranks 21st nationwide among nearly 20,000 airports in toxic lead emissions.

The Scientific American articles below correlate repeated and chronic exposure to lead, even at levels previously considered to be safe, with the following conditions:

  • impaired cognition
  • attention deficit disorder
  • lower academic test scores for children
  • diminished IQs
  • psychiatric disorders
  • hypertension
  • arrhythmia
  • dementia
  • increase in violent crime rates
  • kidney damage
  • damage to central nervous system
  • red blood cell damage
  • decreased immune system functioning
  • likely carcinogen

A 2/17/13 Scientific American article by Mark Fischetti, Lead Exposure on the Rise Despite Decline in Poisoning Cases, reports that lead exposure continues to be a serious problem and further notes "that many of the health complications from lead arise even at low exposures." For the complete article see Lead Exposure on the Rise Despite Decline in Poisoning Cases .

A 9/13/12 Scientific American link poses the question: Does the Continued Use of Lead in Aviation Fuel Endanger the Public Health and the Environment? General aviation fuel is now responsible for more than 50% of the lead emitted into the air in the U.S. To access the article see http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=lead-in-aviation-fuel.

HIO - Pollution

HIO is also a significant source of numerous other toxins. Per EPA documentation HIO is the largest facility source of acrolein, 1,3 butadiene, ethyl benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, organic carbon particulate matter 2.5, elemental carbon particulate matter 2.5, and carbon monoxide in Washington County. It is the second largest source of nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter 2.5 emissions and the third largest source of volatile organic compounds in this jurisdiction. All of the above pollutants are associated with potential negative health consequences - some are known carcinogens while others have a detrimental effect on the respiratory system and/or contribute to a number of serious medical conditions.

Stop Taxation Without Representation

Miki Barnes, LCSW
President of Oregon Aviation Watch
February 12, 2017

Taxation Without Representation is Tyranny

The phrase "taxation without representation is tyranny" is attributed to an 18th century Boston mayor, John Otis, in response to England's policy of taxing colonies in the absence of representative government. This, along with the unfair and unjust treatment perpetrated by the British crown, was one of the two triggering issues that ultimately led to the American Revolution. Generations of U.S. school children were taught that these injustices were resolved over 250 years ago when George Washington and his troops fought off the yoke of England's rule. Sadly, closer inspection reveals that in Oregon this is not the case.

A review of annual property tax bills shows that the Port of Portland (Port) has a decades-long history of levying taxes on Oregonians throughout the tri-county area. Yet the members of the board of commissioners who oversee Port affairs are appointed by the governor rather than elected by the constituents who are routinely impacted by Port policies and activities.

The State of Oregon enshrined the Port's taxing authority and other powers, including the right to pass ordinances, issue bonds and engage in many activities usually reserved for municipalities, in ORS 778. Despite the broad ranging powers accorded to the Port, no provisions for a democratic vote of the people have been established. As a result the Port is essentially a corporation with easy access to public money and land via taxation, eminent domain, and government hand-outs. Yet it remains woefully bereft of the transparency and accountability that elected representation confers.

The Port clearly exults in its ability to promote its corporate agenda while being shielded from those who routinely contribute to its tax base, so much so that it included the following excerpt in its 1991 centennial celebration literature:

After voters approved the Port of Portland Dock Commission merger in 1970, and the Legislature expanded the Port district to include Washington and Clackamas counties in 1973, an Oregonian reporter quipped that the increased reach of the Port gave it the authority "to do anything short of declaring war." "But," the Oregonian continues, "we're not even sure about that because they haven't tried it yet."[1]

In point of fact, there are a growing number of residents, especially those negatively impacted by aviation noise, lead emissions, toxic pollutants, social injustice and livability erosion, who feel that the Port, for all intents and purposes, has declared war on communities throughout the region. In fact, it is not unusual for people who are routinely and repetitively assailed by Hillsboro Airport's incessant flight training activity to say they feel like they're living in a war zone.

In this regard, the oppressive nature of British rule in the 1700s bears a striking resemblance to current times. Just as the colonists were marginalized by England's overreach, so too are area residents oppressed by the Port of Portland. Port policies that encourage, accommodate, and promote excessive aviation noise and pollution rises to the level of a full-on attack on the democratic process and the environment as well as the health of impacted residents. The Port's role in the Willamette River toxic Superfund site, the Terminal 6 labor travesty, and efforts to industrialize Hayden Island further exemplify the Port's long established history of exploiting the greater good in an effort to maximize their profits and those of the corporate entities they represent.

Thankfully, Senator Chuck Riley and Representative Gorsek have taken steps to restore democracy to the process by sponsoring Senate Bill SB 128 [2] and HB 2715 [3], respectively. These bills would create the Hillsboro Airport Authority and the Troutdale Airport Authority. Both would be overseen by a board of commissioners elected by voters residing in the impacted communities. This legislation will be discussed in greater detail later in this document.

Port of Portland Mission

According to the Port's website,

The mission of the Port is to enhance the region's economy and quality of life by providing efficient cargo and air passenger access to national and global markets, and by promoting industrial development.[4]

Neither pilot training nor recreational flying falls within the purview of the mission, yet the Port has routinely foisted the cost of two noisy, highly polluting general aviation airports onto the public, neither of which has generated significant revenue during the years the Port has owned and operated these facilities. As a result they chronically rely on public subsidies via the FAA and ConnectOregon to stay afloat. In the process the Port has become the largest source of airborne lead pollution in Oregon. It now pumps close to a ton or more into the environment each year at the Hillsboro Airport alone. Additional lead is released by the Troutdale and Portland International Airports (PDX).

Aviation-generated Pollution

In addition to noise and lead emissions, airports and aviation activity contribute to global warming and generate a host of other toxins. A review of the 2011 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Emissions Inventory (NEI) on Toxic Emissions [5] identifies HIO as the largest facility source of acrolein, 1,3-butadiene, ethyl benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, organic carbon particulate matter 2.5, elemental carbon particulate matter 2.5, and carbon monoxide in Washington County.[6] It is the second largest source of nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter 2.5 emissions and the third largest source of volatile organic compounds in Washington County. [7]

In order to deflect attention away from their culpability in exposing children and adults to lead and other toxins, Cleaner Air Oregon, DEQ, the Oregon Health Authority and the media tend to focus attention and verbiage on lead tainted drinking water in the schools and lead bullet dust at National Guard armories - both of which are indisputably serious issues that need to be addressed. Regarding stationary sources, in their response to Precision Castparts, Bullseye Glass and Uroborus, the governor and state agencies set in motion steps to address toxic pollutants released by private industry while steadfastly refusing to reduce and terminate the significant aviation pollution promoted by the Port of Portland commissioners - an approach that insures that airports, which are some of the biggest polluters in the entire state, continue to operate with minimal environmental oversight.

In choosing their language, the state agencies mentioned above ignore the largest source of airborne lead pollution in the country - piston engine general aviation aircraft. The EPA has identified this category of aircraft as responsible for 60% of airborne lead pollution in the U.S.[8]

Portland Opposes PDX Expansion, Shifts Air Traffic to HIO Instead

Evidence suggests that the Port's success in promoting its aviation agenda is achieved by intentionally pitting one community against another. All too often jurisdictions that perceive possible respite from aviation encroachment align with the Port. A prime example is the decision by the City of Portland to develop code prohibiting a third parallel runway at PDX. The code reads as follows:

Because the potential impacts of a third parallel runway at the airport are so significant, this section prohibits additional runways. The effect of the prohibition is that a legislative project to amend this plan district would be necessary to add a third runway. The legislative project would require the City and Port of Portland to engage the regional community in a cooperative effort to create a development plan for the airport that addresses transportation and infrastructure needs, as well as community impacts, by exploring alternatives to a potential third runway.[9]

Shortly after the city of Portland codified its opposition to a third parallel runway at PDX, the Port made a decision to construct a third runway at HIO, primarily to serve for-profit flight training interests and private pilots. For the record, the process did not involve the so-called "regional community" nor could it be described as a "cooperative effort." In fact, the runway was built despite a citizen challenge in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Port's strategy for building the HIO runway was achieved in large part by denying impacted residents a voice in the process. The tactics used suggest that Portland's concern about the environment doesn't appear to extend to those who live outside its boundaries. Over the years, a long succession of Oregon governors who claim Portland as their primary residence have either overtly or covertly aligned with Port efforts to shift operations from PDX to Hillsboro. A key strategy was to insure that decisions impacting Portland and Multnomah County residents were well represented on airport advisory committees by Portland's Office of Neighborhood Involvement, environmental interests and other impacted communities. By contrast, the Hillsboro Airport Roundtable Exchange (HARE) and the HIO Master Planning committees are dominated by Port appointees, most of whom are pilots and HIO business tenants along with Port and FAA employees.

Abundance of Capacity at PDX - Annual Operational Count at 30 Year Low

It is noteworthy that there is an abundance of capacity at PDX where the annual operational count has plummeted to a 30 year low. This 3,200 acre facility has experienced a 30% decline in operations over the past 16 years. As a result it currently logs fewer annual operations than it did in 1985. Portland officials were obviously responsive to the noise and environmental concerns expressed by their constituents. By contrast, they were more than willing to shift these negative impacts to Hillsboro residents.

In fact, in the late 1990s, Portland City Councilman Dan Saltzman successfully advocated to move PDX traffic to HIO without giving any consideration whatsoever to the health, environmental, and livability impacts on Washington County residents. For perspective, please bear in mind that HIO has less than one-third the acreage of PDX. In addition it is surrounded on three sides by residential communities and on the fourth by prime farmland. PDX by contrast is bordered by the Columbia River and industrial lands.

Similarly, the Portland, Vancouver, and Multnomah County representatives on the PDX Citizen Noise Advisory Committee (CNAC), has a history of dumping air traffic on HIO, rather than promoting inclusive democracy and social justice. The CNAC is yet another committee where Washington County residents lack effective representation except by pro-aviation expansion enthusiasts who often lobby on behalf of the aviation industry rather than the greater good.

More recently, a project advisory committee at the Port-owned Troutdale Airport recommended downsizing the runway at this facility and opening up nearly a sixth of the acreage for non-aviation related business and industrial development. Since that decision, Port statistics reflect a significant decrease in general aviation operations at Troutdale and PDX with a steady increase at HIO.

Exploitation and the Urban-Rural Divide

Portland has often viewed Hillsboro as the dumping ground for the excessive noise and toxicity linked to the aviation industry. The local government entities responsible for protecting the populace from these onslaughts are equally culpable. The five white men who serve on the Washington County Board of Commissioners along with the white male mayor and city council members who preside over the city of Hillsboro political machine are enough to make even Donald Trump swoon. These political entities have the support of media outlets such as the Hillsboro Tribune[10] which did not endorse a single female candidate or person of color for any of the open seats in the November 2016 election. The Tribune even goes so far as to list the Port of Portland as a business partner. This is apparently what passes for objective, unbiased reporting in the region.

Like Portland, the city of Hillsboro has also demonstrated its willingness to direct the excesses spawned by their symbiotic relationship with the Port and the aviation industry onto people residing in rural communities who are also denied a voice - a pattern that is well exemplified by actions taken by the Port and Hillsboro neighborhood groups during the mid 2000s to promote flight training at the Apple Valley Airport in Buxton - an effort that met with organized opposition from the local residents who incurred close to $200,000 in legal costs to prevent this airstrip from developing into a commercial flight training facility. In this instance, those impacted were compelled to engage in intensive and expensive legal actions to protect themselves from this onslaught.

The FAA and Port practice of encouraging student pilots to train over western Washington County residents provides further evidence of the exploitation of rural communities by the aviation interests.

Legislative Solutions

Senator Chuck Riley and Representative Chris Gorsek have each introduced legislation in the 2017 session, SB 128[11] and HB 2715[12], respectively, that could potentially protect residents from the lopsided, imbalanced politics currently permeating the state's approach to regional airport management. As stated in the bill summaries, the proposed legislation

Creates Hillsboro Airport Authority and Troutdale Airport Authority as divisions of Port of Portland. Provides that airport authorities operate independently of Board of Commissioners of Port of Portland. Provides that airport authorities have exclusive right to exercise all power and authority of Port of Portland with respect to Hillsboro Airport and Troutdale Airport.

Provides that airport authorities are composed of nine members elected from county in which airport is located.

The passage of these bills could help to insure that individuals impacted by Port of Portland airport policies would have the opportunity to elect representatives from their own communities. In addition, the monthly meetings held by the airport authorities would be held in the jurisdictions where the airports are located, instead of in Portland.

Regarding the toxic lead pollution caused by Oregon's airports, both Senator Riley and Representative Mitch Greenlick have sponsored legislation aimed at banning the use of leaded aviation fuel by January 2022. Senate Bill 115[13] and House Bill 2109[14] both address this issue.

Oregon Aviation Watch urges residents to encourage their elected officials to support these bills.


The phrase "Taxation without Representation is Tyranny" remains as relevant and pernicious in Oregon now as it was during the formative years of this nation. A genuine commitment to democracy demands that the fundamental voting rights of the electorate are honored and respected rather than repressed and denied and also insures a genuine regional approach that considers the environment and all impacted residents rather than allowing Portland to foist unjust and fundamentally toxic activities on neighboring jurisdictions. Instead of shifting highly polluting air traffic from one community to another, it's time to engage in a regional discussion about the broader impacts of allowing this to continue.

Other transportation alternatives are far less polluting and disruptive than aviation, most notably high-speed trains. Instead of promoting the misguided policy of subsidizing private aviation, Oregon should invest in building the Cascadia high-speed train corridor - a form of transportation that is far more environmentally sustainable and would also lead to significant job creation. In addition, unlike general aviation airports, it would serve the more than 99.5 percent of the population who can't afford to own, lease or travel via private jets, small planes or helicopters.


[1] Partners in Progress: Port of Portland Celebrates 100 Years 1891-1991.

[2] Senate Bill 128. 79th Oregon Legislative Assembly - 2017 Regular Session. Available on-line at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/SB128/Introduced.

[3] House Bill 2715. 79th Oregon Legislative Assembly - 2017 Regular Session. Available on-line at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2715/Introduced.

[4] Fast Facts. Port of Portland website. Available on-line at http://www2.portofportland.com/Inside/FastFacts

[5] The 2011 National Emissions Inventory. Maps and Fusion Tables. Environmental Protection Agency. Available at https://www.epa.gov/air-emissions-inventories.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] EPA Aircraft Emissions: Briefing for Mobile Sources Technical Review Committee. (5?5?15). Pg. 3. Available on-line at https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-05/documents/050515mstrs_samulski.pdf.

[9] Port of Portland City Code 33.565.210 New Airport Capacity A. Purpose. Available on-line at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bps/article/348783.

[10] Hillsboro Tribune Editorial Board. Endorsement: Our picks for the November 8 General Election. (10/27/16). Available on-line at http://www.pamplinmedia.com/ht/118-hillsboro-tribune-opinion/329529-209277-endorsement-our-picks-for-the-november-8-general-election.

[11] Senate Bill 128. 79th Oregon Legislative Assembly - 2017 Regular Session. Available on-line at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/SB128/Introduced.

[12] House Bill 2715. 79th Oregon Legislative Assembly - 2017 Regular Session. Available on-line at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2715/Introduced.

[13] Senate Bill 115. 79th Oregon Legislative Assembly - 2017 Regular Session. Available on-line at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/SB115/Introduced.

[14] House Bill 2109. 79th Oregon Legislative Assembly - 2017 Regular Session.. Available on-line at https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2109/Introduced.

Legislation to Address Negative Impacts of Aviation

January 11, 2017

In recent months members of Oregon Aviation Watch met with various Oregon Senators and Representatives to explore possible legislative solutions for addressing the negative impacts of aviation activity. We would like to extend our thanks to Senator Chuck Riley and Representatives Mitch Greenlick, Ken Helm, Susan McLain, and former Rep. Joe Gallegos for their support and advice throughout this process.

We are grateful and pleased to announce that there are now several bills in the Oregon legislature. Two are sponsored by Senator Riley:

Senate Bill 115
Phases out leaded aviation fuel, resulting in a ban on leaded aviation fuel use in OR by 2022. See https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/SB115.
Senate Bill 128
Creates the Hillsboro and Troutdale Airport Authorities as divisions of the Port of Portland. See https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/SB128.

In the House, Rep. Mitch Greenlick is sponsoring:

House Bill 2109
Prohibits the use of leaded aviation fuel as of January 1, 2022. See https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2017R1/Measures/Overview/HB2109.

Please contact your senators and representatives to express support for this legislation.

Lead Toxicity

As elucidated in a 10/24/16 Earthjustice press release urging President Obama's Task Force on Environmental Health and Safety Risks to Children to put an end to lead poisoning and exposure of children (See Coalition Calls for End to Lead Poisoning and Exposure):

Lead is a potent neurotoxin with no safe level of exposure. Elevated blood lead levels harm young children's developing brains, leading to learning disabilities, loss of IQ points, and behavioral problems. Government scientists have concluded that lead is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." In addition, prolonged exposure to lead is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease and reduced fertility. The human body mistakes lead for calcium, prompting our bodies to store lead in our teeth and bones. Failure to prevent lead poisoning in childhood affects future generations: lead in pregnant women can cross the placenta and build up in breast milk, meaning children's harmful exposure to lead often begins before birth and continues through infancy...The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and independent scientists all agree that there is no safe level of human lead exposure. And yet, the CDC estimates that over a half million preschool age children in the United States have levels of lead in their blood high enough to require medical case management.

Hillsboro Airport ranks 21st out of nearly 20,000 airports nationwide in airborne lead emissions. This facility releases close to a ton of this pernicious toxin into the air each year during the landing and take-off phase of flight. Additional lead is emitted during pre-flight run-ups and in the cruise phase. Troutdale Airport is currently the largest source of lead emissions in Multnomah County. The majority of users of these airports are student pilots most of whom are training through the Hillsboro Aero Academy.

Hillsboro and Troutdale Airport Authorities - Senate Bill 128

The creation of Hillsboro and Troutdale Airport Authorities as divisions of the Port of Portland insures that elected representatives with accountability to the public would oversee these general aviation airports. To date, unelected Port of Portland commissioners routinely make decisions at meetings held in Portland. The residents who bear the brunt of the noise, environmental pollution, property devaluation, safety and security risks posed by these aviation business interests are seldom considered.

The Cost of Aviation Lead Pollution

Miki Barnes, LCSW
January 4, 2017

The article Lead Emissions in Planes May be Costing Billions in Lost Wages discusses the economic impact of lead pollution.

Specific to Oregon, the EPA has identified Hillsboro Airport as the largest source of lead emissions in Oregon. This facility emits 0.8 tons of lead per year during the landing and take-off phase of flight. Pre-flight run-ups are also a major source of lead pollution, however the Port of Portland opted not to include these emissions in their estimates. Other Port owned and operated airports - Portland International and Troutdale - also release lead into the environment on a routine basis, as do the many general aviation airports located throughout the state.

Hillsboro Airport Flight Training Expansion Sidesteps Democratic Process

Miki Barnes, LCSW
December 15, 2016

The links provided below to the Portland Tribune and Portland Business Journal report on a recently announced partnership between Hillsboro Aero Academy and Horizon Air to engage in commuter jet pilot training at the Hillsboro Airport (HIO).

Portland Tribune article - Hillsboro Aero, Horizon Air strike deal for new pilots

Portland Business Journal article - After pact with Horizon, Hillsboro school aims to be training ground for commercial pilots

It appears that this negotiation transpired in the complete absence of public notice and input, and as such circumvented the democratic process. The Port of Portland, which owns and operates HIO, is a quasi-government agency that is governed by a non-elected board of commissioners, thus the Port essentially functions without voter approval or consideration, even though their decisions trigger widespread negative impacts throughout region. HIO is already one of the biggest polluters in Washington County, even without the addition of increased operations. It is also the source of numerous noise complaints.

It is noteworthy that less than 2 1/2 months ago, the Port and FAA claimed before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that the addition of a third runway at HIO has not generated an increase in operations. Oregon Aviation Watch questioned this assertion, especially in light of ample evidence that the Port shifted general aviation operations to Troutdale and PDX in the months following the opening of the runway. See Hillsboro Tribune article "Aviation Watchdogs Clash with Port, FAA in U.S. Circuit Court" for additional information on this topic.

The corporate nature of this business arrangement in conjunction with the complete and utter failure to consider noise, livability, the environment and public health concerns brings to mind a 1938 statement from Franklin Roosevelt:

...the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism—ownership of Government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.

The above quote remains as chillingly relevant today as it was in the years leading up to the Second World War. To access the entire speech see Franklin D. Roosevelt: Message to Congress on Curbing Monopolies.

Sadly, in the case of HIO, the State of Oregon, the Washington County Board of Commissioners, and the City of Hillsboro have consistently failed to enact necessary safe guards to uphold democratic principle on behalf of those who are routinely subjected to the noise and pollution caused by the flight training industry.

Coalition Calls for End to Lead Poisoning and Exposure

October 24, 2016

Oregon Aviation Watch is proud to be among the coalition of groups who have joined together to urge federal agencies to end lead poisoning and exposure. We extend our thanks to Earthjustice for their comprehensive research and dedicated effort in spearheading this initiative.

For Immediate Release

October 24, 2016

Zoe Woodcraft, Earthjustice, (415) 217-2071, (818) 606-7509 zwoodcraft@earthjustice.org

Health, Environment & Children's Groups Call for National Strategy to End Lead Poisoning and Lead Exposure

Coalition asks federal agencies to make National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week more than symbolic

WASHINGTON, DC - A coalition of organizations across the country have sent a call for action to President Obama's Task Force on Environmental Health and Safety Risks to Children, calling for the U.S. to finally end lead exposure and poisoning for children. The coalition - comprised of experts in national, state, and local organizations focused on issues ranging from children's health to labor concerns, and from doctors to environmental justice advocates - are urging federal agencies with a legal responsibility to finally step up and do their jobs to protect children's health.

Lead is a potent neurotoxin with no safe level of exposure. Elevated blood lead levels harm young children's developing brains, leading to learning disabilities, loss of IQ points, and behavioral problems. Government scientists have concluded that lead is "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen." In addition, prolonged exposure to lead is associated with high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease and reduced fertility. The human body mistakes lead for calcium, prompting our bodies to store lead in our teeth and bones. Failure to prevent lead poisoning in childhood affects future generations: lead in pregnant women can cross the placenta and build up in breast milk, meaning children's harmful exposure to lead often begins before birth and continues through infancy.

"Lead exposure crises are flaring in communities across the country. The high levels of lead in water and soil in Flint, Philadelphia, and East Los Angeles are not stand-alone incidents. They're alarm bells ringing loud and clear that we need to do everything we can on a national level to prevent neurotoxic lead exposure," said Lisa Garcia, Earthjustice's Vice President for Healthy Communities. "We know how harmful lead is for children, but the good news is that we know how to prevent our kids from facing this danger. That's why we're calling for a plan of attack that will require federal agencies once and for all to end this public health hazard that hits our children and communities of color hardest."

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and independent scientists all agree that there is no safe level of human lead exposure. And yet, the CDC estimates that over half a million preschool age children in the United States have levels of lead in their blood high enough to require medical case management.

New Policy on Lead

The coalition of organizations from around the country sent their plan to the President's Task Force on Environmental Health and Safety Risks to Children, co-chaired by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services (the plan can be viewed online here). It calls for major actions from legally responsible federal agencies - with a focus on where lead exposure is hurting children, including:

  • EPA must strengthen its standards and enforcement of those standards for lead in air, house paint, dust, soil, and drinking water to prevent the current unacceptable levels of lead exposure in our communities. For example, it is urgent for EPA to reduce new sources of lead in the air children breathe, including from battery recyclers (lead smelters) and aviation fuel. To safeguard children from new lead exposure in everyday life, EPA must prioritize lead as a chemical of concern for immediate health risk evaluation and action under the newly reformed Toxic Substances Control Act this coming December.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) must move to a primary prevention approach by identifying and remediating lead hazards before a child is harmed, and aligning its policies with current science to better protect families in their homes.
  • The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) must move to ban all lead in children's and household products, and use its recall authority to do more to protect children from lead in products currently in homes.
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must withdraw approval for cosmetics and food products currently sold in the U.S. that contain lead.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) must adopt stronger worker protection standards, including for pregnant women, to prevent and reduce their lead exposure.
  • The CDC must ratchet down its definition of an elevated blood lead level to reflect that there is no safe level of lead exposure. Evidence shows that the CDC's current reference level of five micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood is far too lax, as levels below that carry harmful health impacts and families need to know much sooner if their children are being exposed to dangerous lead.

The Burden of Lead Exposure Falls Heavily on Children of Color

Due to the widespread industrial uses of lead in gasoline, paint, and metal products for decades in the United States, lead is in our water, soil, dust, and the air we breathe. It also enters our communities every year from new sources of lead, such as wheel weights, certain cosmetics, industrial facilities, and leaded aviation gas for piston-engine aircraft.

Children living in communities of color are most likely to suffer from lead exposure and poisoning. A CDC report from 2004 showed that African American children are over three times as likely to have highly elevated blood-lead levels. African American and Latino communities are often more likely to live near active battery recyclers, former industrial sites, or highways, and to live in older housing that are sources of high levels of lead.

Scientists and Health Professionals Agree That Preventing Lead Exposure Is Urgent

In 2016 a distinguished team of scientists and health professionals united as Project TENDR (Targeting Environmental Neuro-Developmental Risks) released a consensus statement on toxic chemicals with the following statement:

"Lead exposure continues to be a preventable cause of intellectual impairment, ADHD and maladaptive behaviors for millions of children. Scientists agree that there is no safe level of lead exposure for fetal or early childhood development, and studies have documented the potential for cumulative and synergistic health effects from combined exposure to lead and social stressors. Thus, taking further preventive actions is imperative...we call on policy makers to take seriously the need to reduce exposures of all children to lead."

For full statement, visit http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/EHP358/.

The organizations urging federal agencies to take up this comprehensive plan to prevent lead exposure include:

A Community Voice * Alaska Community Action on Toxics * Beyond Toxics * BlueGreen Alliance * California Communities Against Toxics * California Safe Schools * Center for Health, Environment & Justice * Clean Water and Air Matter * Coalition for Economic Survival * Comite Civico Del Valle * Community Science Institute * Connecticut Coalition for Environmental Justice * Del Amo Action Committee * Downwinders at Risk * Earthjustice * East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice * Ecology Center * Environmental Health Coalition * Environmental Health Strategy Center * Farmworker Association of Florida * Food & Water Watch * Friends of the Earth * Green & Healthy Homes Initiative * Health Justice Project * Healthy Babies Bright Futures * Healthy Homes Collaborative * Hoosier Environmental Council * Inner City Law Center * Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders * International POPS Elimination Network * Jesus People Against Pollution * Korean Immigrant Workers Alliance * Labadie Environmental Organization * Learning Disabilities Association of America * Missouri Coalition for the Environment * Natural Resources Defense Council * New Jersey Citizen Action * Northern Manhattan Improvement Corp. * Ohio Environmental Council * Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition * Oregon Aviation Watch * Pacoima Beautiful * Physicians for Social Responsibility * Public Citizens for Children and Youth * Sierra Club * United Parents Against Lead * Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment * WE ACT for Environmental Justice * Worksafe

# # #

Earthjustice, the nation's premier nonprofit environmental law organization, wields the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people's health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.

Because the earth needs a good lawyer.


Hillsboro Tribune article "Aviation Watchdogs Clash with Port, FAA in U.S. Circuit Court"

October 22, 2016

The following is commentary on Hillsboro Tribune article "Aviation Watchdogs Clash with Port, FAA in U.S. Court"

Comments on the Article

Many thanks to Travis Loose for covering the 10/5/16 Ninth Circuit Court hearing on the Hillsboro Airport (HIO) third runway expansion. A major issue before the Court was whether or not the additional runway will induce demand and thereby trigger a more thorough and extensive environmental review. In this regard, it served the Port of Portland's interests to claim that the operational count at HIO has decreased. As noted in the article, Port attorney Jason Morgan, argued that the runway did not lead to an immediate increase in operations (landings and take-offs) after it opened in April of 2015, however, this statement is misleading and as such deserves further scrutiny.

Background Information on Who is Served by Port of Portland Airports

The Port currently owns three airports - Portland International Airport (PDX) which facilitates commercial, military and general aviation activity as well as Hillsboro and Troutdale which are general aviation airports that predominantly accommodate a for-profit international flight school - Hillsboro Aero Academy (formerly Hillsboro Aviation).

A 6/04/13 Portland Tribune article Troutdale Flight School is International Cockpit for Pilots[1] sheds light on the nature of the flight training provided by Hillsboro Aero Academy (formerly Hillsboro Aviation) at both the Hillsboro and Troutdale locations. Per the article, "Hillsboro Aviation's Troutdale facility was opened on behalf of a request by Portland Community College to help grow their aviation flight program..." It is noteworthy that in their 2012 Terminal Area Forecast (TAF), the FAA expected the operational count at the Troutdale Airport to remain at between 56,000 and 64,000 operations from 2011 to 2040. However, Port aviation statistics show that the increases at Troutdale were far more sudden, rapid and unanticipated than the FAA realized. Indeed in 2014 Troutdale logged 100,415 operations and 129,033 in 2015. This doubling occurred at around the same time Hillsboro Aero Academy expanded operations at this facility.

The above situation serves as a cogent and compelling example of how rapidly operations can increase at an airport when a flight training company either moves in or chooses to expand.

In late 2014, Max Lyons, the owner of Hillsboro Aviation, sold the flight school to out of state investors. After the sale he stayed on as part owner, manager and CEO of the school.[2] He also continued to run Hillsboro Aviation, which offers charter, sales, and maintenance services. Over the past few years Hillsboro Aviation has undergone a major expansion at HIO.[3]

The private businesses owned and or managed by Lyons at both Hillsboro and Troutdale airports are major contributors to noise, lead and other toxic emissions associated with these airports.

According to the FAA Registry[4], nearly half of the 265 based aircraft at the Hillsboro Airport are registered to companies owned, partly owned, or managed by Lyons. Hillsboro Aero Academy has 83 based aircraft and Hillsboro Aviation lists 41. Yet another HIO aircraft is registered to Lyons Aircraft Leasing LLC and two are registered to his wife, Carol Lyons. The publicly funded $17M third runway was constructed in large part to accommodate the for-profit, private business interests promoted by Mr. Lyons. Please note that $4M of the runway expansion cost was donated by the State of Oregon via a ConnectOregon grant.

General Aviation Operations Shift to PDX and Troutdale After Opening of HIO Third Runway

Returning to the claim by Morgan that the additional runway did not lead to an immediate increase in operations in 2015, it will be necessary to review the operational counts at all Port owned airports especially Troutdale, since Hillsboro Aero Academy has a distinct presence at this location. Significantly, Port of Portland aviation statistics reveals a dramatic monthly increase in general aviation operations throughout 2015 at both PDX and Troutdale Airports. Indeed in January of 2015 the operational count at Troutdale climbed by 42% and by more than 75% in February and March. In April when the Port began utilizing the HIO third runway, operations increased by 55% at Troutdale and 48% at PDX while HIO general aviation activity dropped by -5.4%.

This pattern continues to unfold in May of 2015 with a 55.4% increase at Troutdale and a 44.5% increase at PDX while HIO operations drop by -12.1%. The decline at HIO is even more pronounced in June at -18.3% while general aviation operations increased at PDX and Troutdale by 41.4% and 6% respectively. In July of 2015 general aviation operations increased by 32.4% at PDX and 37.6% at Troutdale while HIO experienced a decline of -12.4%.

This familiar pattern of decreases at HIO with simultaneous double digit increases at PDX and Troutdale continued throughout 2015.

These sudden and hitherto unanticipated changes certainly suggest that the Port may have intentionally orchestrated the shift in an effort to minimize the potential impact of nearly doubling capacity at HIO by adding a third runway. It is noteworthy that though the Port and FAA provided the 9th Circuit Court judges with data on 2015 they didn't bother to mention that by the spring of 2016 operations at HIO gradually began to increase again, simultaneous with a decline in operations at PDX and Troutdale.

Visit https://www2.portofportland.com/Inside/AviationStatistics to access Port of Portland Aviation Statistics data.

It is also noteworthy that Port admits, "It is not unusual for the level of activity at any airport to vary from time to time." Thus 2015 data may not apply to the future, especially since the capacity of the airport nearly doubled with the addition of the runway.

Port Attorney Provides Misleading Information about Unleaded Fuel

The Tribune article also reported that according to Morgan, "the FAA is currently in the process of phasing out avgas, with unleaded fuel types expected to be readily available by 2018." Morgan is quoted as saying "Lead's going to be gone...I have a hard time seeing what there is worth fighting about still with this case."

It is troubling that the Port hired an attorney who is so uninformed on this issue and one who is perpetuating false information about a toxin that is known to be highly dangerous even at very low levels, so much so that the CDC, the EPA and World Health Organization have warned that there is no safe level of lead in a child's blood. Morgan and the Port would be well-advised to educate themselves on this issue. Towards this end, I suggest they read the Guidebook for Assessing Airport Lead Impacts from the Airport Cooperative Research Program. Please note that Samuel Hartsfield who works for the Port served on the panel for this project.

Per the guidebook, the FAA has been seeking a replacement for leaded fuel for more than two decades and has now set 2018 as the target year for identifying a lead free alternative. "...it should be noted that the adoption of unleaded AVGAS specifications does not ensure that the fuel will be available in a timely manner or at a price that is competitive with leaded fuel." [6] The report further notes that, "It is expected that any replacement fuel will require infrastructure (fueling) and face other airport challenges before it can be fully implemented."[7]

What this means is that the FAA has not yet identified a replacement fuel nor is there a mandate for pilots to use it. In the absence of a viable alternative, no phase-out plan has been established. The Port does not offer an unleaded fuel alternative at any of their airports nor does any other airport in the greater Portland Metropolitan region. In short, Morgan's statements on behalf of the Port are alarmingly shortsighted and betray a disregard for the environment and public health that is difficult to fathom.


[1] Hachmann, Cari. Troutdale Flight School is Cockpit for International Pilots. Portland Tribune. 6/4/14. Available on-line at http://portlandtribune.com/go/44-features/153866-troutdale-flight-school-is-international-cockpit-for-pilots.

[2] Hammill, Luke. Hillsboro Aviation Sells Flight-Training School, but Day to Day Operations Not Likely to Change. Oregonian. (12/2/14). Available on-line at http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2014/12/hillsboro_aviation_sells_fligh.html.

[3] Hillsboro Aviation website. Available on-line at http://www.hillsboroaviation.com/en/page/new_hangar.

[4] Go to FAA Registry at http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/name_inquiry.aspx then type in the names of the companies and individuals.

[5] Guidebook for Assessing Airport Lead Impacts. Airport Cooperative Research Program. 2016. Pg. 4. Available on-line at http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/174934.aspx.

[6] Hillsboro Airport Parallel Runway 12L/30R. Final Supplemental Environmental Assessment. Prepared by Port of Portland for the FAA. Volume 2. Page G.9-48. Comment OAW11. (February 2014). Available on-line at http://www.portofportland.com/pdfpop/HIO_SEA_Final_Vol2.pdf.

[7] Greenberger, Marci. Forward to Guidebook for Assessing Airport Lead Impacts. Airport Cooperative Research Program. 2016. Available on-line at http://www.trb.org/Main/Blurbs/174934.aspx.

Aviation Lead Pollution article by Bryce Covert of Think Progress

October 12, 2016

The 10/12/16 article The Forgotten Source of Lead That's Still Spewing Into Our Air by Bryce Covert of Think Progress explores aviation generated lead pollution. The report brings attention to the ongoing efforts of Friends of the Earth, Earthjustice, Oregon Aviation Watch, and Santa Monica community activists to address this issue. The author points out that Hillsboro Airport ranks 21st in the nation among nearly 20,000 airports in lead emissions.

Just a clarification, Miki Barnes and her husband David do not live in Hillsboro, nor do they live in the vicinity of the Hillsboro Airport. Fourteen years ago they made a conscious decision to purchase a property more than 12 miles from the Hillsboro Airport. Despite there best efforts they continue to be plagued by oft-times unrelenting airport noise and pollution caused in large part by student pilots training out of the Hillsboro Airport as well as general aviation hobbyists who continue to fly in aircraft that use leaded fuel.

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