Hillsboro and Aerotropolis Development

November 22, 2015

There are troubling indications that the Hillsboro City Council, the Washington County Board of Commissioners and the Hillsboro Airport are pursuing an aerotropolis model as evidenced by opening up farmland, either bordering or in close proximity to the Hillsboro Airport, to taxpayer subsidized industrial development. In the case discussed below, the county and city recently declared 1,090 acres of rural land "blighted" in an effort to quite literally pave the way for additional development. According to Jody Wiser of Tax Fairness Oregon, $131 Million of the money earmarked to pay for this project will be diverted from the K thru 12 educational budget. Oregon is already a state that often receives low or failing grades due to its chronic failure to adequately fund education. It is also negligent in addressing aviation noise and environmental toxins generated by airport related polluters.

For additional information see:

Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM) Update #2

Per Rose Bridger of GAAM,

"The second issue of 'Aerotropolis Update' has been published by the Global Anti-Aerotroplis Movement (GAAM). It contains news of aerotropolis development around 46 airports. A few US airports are mentioned, including Atlanta, but the emphasis is on major developments in Africa and Asia. The allocation of large areas of land, displacement of rural communities, high levels of government expenditure, subsidies such as tax breaks and integration with other megaprojects are among the key concerns. The Update can be viewed and downloaded from the Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM) website: GAAM Aerotropolis Update, No. 2.

The Update contains maps showing the land area for Atlanta Aerotropolis, Long Thanh (Vietnam), and King Shaka (South Africa)."

Legislation Introduced to Address Aviation Noise

November 11, 2015

Press Release from the Office of Rep. Ruben Gallego D-Ariz Announcing the Introduction of the FAA Community Accountability Act of 2015 bill.

Rep. Ruben Gallego Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Compel FAA to Reconsider Flight Routes and Address Flight Noise Problems

November 5, 2015 - Press Release

Washington, DC - Today Rep. Ruben Gallego and 14 cosponsors introduced the FAA Community Accountability Act to give local communities a say in the Federal Aviation Administration's decision-making process regarding flight paths.

The FAA Community Accountability Act would establish a new process to compel the FAA to reconsider existing flight routes that are exposing residents to unacceptably high levels of aviation noise. The legislation would also end the presumption under current law that flight paths implemented through the NextGen program may not follow pre-existing routes, even when these paths better reflect land use around the airport.

The bill would designate Community Ombudsmen to serve as effective, independent voices for airport communities within the agency. Finally, the bill would prevent the FAA from bypassing the environmental review process for new flight paths over the objections of local communities.

The bills original cosponsors include Reps. David Schweikert (R-AZ), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Steve Israel (D-NY), Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ), Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Grace Meng (D-NY), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Alan Grayson (D-FL), and Don Beyer (D-VA).

Rep. Ruben Gallego said, "Last September, the FAA altered flight paths for aircraft departing from Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport. The changes were made without meaningful input or consultation with community members or civic leaders, and have caused severe noise disruptions that have lowered the quality of life for many members of my community. My bill would help address this problem in Phoenix and make sure that other communities across the country don't suffer the same consequences of the FAA's opaque decision-making process."

Rep. Steve Israel said, "Airplane noise continues to have a negative impact on the lives of my constituents in Queens and Nassau county. This bill will ensure that residents affected by airplane noise have a voice in urging the FAA to reconsider placing these noisy flight paths over their homes and communities." | Contact: Joe Knickrehm (202-225-3335)

Rep. Mike Quigley said, "My constituents back home in Chicago are facing unprecedented noise pollution from passing aircraft that is eroding their quality of life, lowering their property values, and impacting their health. But this is clearly not just a Chicago issue. Communities across the country are experiencing increased airplane noise, and it's time for the FAA to be more accountable and responsive to their concerns. I'm proud to introduce the FAA Community Accountability Act with my colleagues to ensure that the voices of our constituents are heard before any changes to flight paths are considered." | Contact: Emily Hampsten (202-225-4061)

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick said, "Phoenix residents have every right to be frustrated, not only by disruptive noise from new flight paths but by the FAA's unwillingness to listen. It shouldn't have taken congressional action to find a solution, but if that's what it takes then we'll fight for these folks until the FAA is responsive and accountable." | Contact: Jennifer Johnson (202-225-3361)

Rep. Don Beyer said, "Our communities deserve greater input in the FAA's processes to minimize airplane noise. I am proud to join Congressman Gallego in urging the FAA to be more inclusive in considering the impact of its flight paths."| Contact: Thomas Scanlon (202-225-4376)

Rep. Joseph Crowley said, "Unfortunately, aircraft noise pollution isn't merely a nuisance - it poses health risks, disrupts student learning and drowns out the joys of daily life. Our airports will never be perfect neighbors, but we can certainly work to make them better ones. I'm proud to join Congressman Gallego in sponsoring this much-needed legislation that will go a long way in helping communities impacted by aircraft noise." | Contact: Courtney Gidner (202-225-3965)

Rep. Stephen F. Lynch said, "Many of the towns and neighborhoods that I represent are close to Logan Airport and the residents in our area have faced a huge increase in airplane noise and a total lack of responsiveness from the FAA. Some of these citizens and taxpayers have 500 planes fly directly over their homes each day - and they deserve to have their voices heard and they are entitled to some relief. I am proud to cosponsor Congressman Gallego's bill, which will demand accountability and create a dialogue between these affected communities and the FAA."| Contact: Elizabeth Zappala (202-226-1918)

Rep. Anna G. Eshoo said, "New flight paths associated with implementation of the FAA's NextGen satellite-based navigation program have caused major increases in aircraft noise. For thousands of Americans, including so many throughout my congressional district, a family conversation at the dinner table, sitting outside, or trying to sleep have all been disrupted because of the roar of jet engines overhead. I'm proud to be part of the effort to resolve this untenable situation by introducing the FAA Community Accountability Act, which requires the FAA to work with local communities and limit noise impacts when planning and implementing new flight paths with NextGen. This legislation can mitigate unacceptable high levels of aircraft noise while continually modernizing our aviation system." | Contact: Charles Stewart (202-225-8104)

See https://rubengallego.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/rep-ruben-gallego-introduces-bipartisan-bill-compel-faa-reconsider for on-line version of press release.

Text of the Community Accountability Act of 2015 is available at https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/114/hr3965/text.

Applebee Aviation - License Revoked for 5 years, Fine Increased to $180,000

November 9, 2015

The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) more than quadrupled Applebee Aviation's fine and issued a 5 year revocation of the license allowing this company to engage in pesticide spraying. The penalty was increased because Applebee Aviation continued commercial aerial spraying activities even with a suspended license.

Per ODA Director Kathy Coba,

"Issuing $180,000 in civil penalties and five-year license revocations against Applebee Aviation underscores how serious the Oregon Department of Agriculture considers the violations that have taken place...We take all violations of the state's pesticide law seriously. The fact that this operator knowingly and willfully continued to conduct pesticide applications 16 times after receiving a suspended license shows contempt for state regulations and our department. We cannot and will not tolerate such disregard for the law by which all pesticide operators are expected to live by."

See State Revokes Aviation Pesticide License by Hillsboro Tribune reporter Kathy Fuller for additional information.

As noted by Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter, Tony Schick, "The fines and license suspension mark the largest penalties ever in a case of aerial pesticide spraying in Oregon."

See Big Penalties for Oregon Pesticide Sprayer That Ignored License Suspension for the full OPB report.

In response the owner of the company, Mike Applebee, claiming unfair treatment, has announced his intent to appeal. See the OregonLive article I'm a Scapegoat, Helicopter Spray Company Owner Says of $180,000 Fine by Rob Davis for details.

The Bureau of Land Management Investigates Applebee Aviation Aerial Spraying Violations

October 28, 2015

On 10/27/2015, Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) published an article by reporter Tony Schick entitled BLM Investigates After Company Sprays Pesticide on Public Land Without License. As noted by Schick,

"The case of Applebee Aviation, a relatively small operation, shows how companies with a history of violations can continue to win government contracts, despite safeguards intended to prevent 'bad actors' from working on public land...Since 2010, state and federal agencies awarded Applebee Aviation more than $1 million in contracts to apply fertilizer and pesticides on public land in Oregon and Washington. During that same span, Applebee Aviation tallied more complaints, violations and vehicle crashes than any other aerial pesticide operator in Oregon, according to state and federal records."

Government contracts awarded to Applebee Aviation include:

  • $195,000 awarded by the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over the past 6 years
  • Nearly $1 million for aerial herbicide spraying from the Washington Department of Natural Resources over the past six years
  • Two contracts worth nearly $50,000 awarded by the Oregon Department of Forestry in 2015

A legal declaration submitted by the Oregon Department of Agriculture Program Manager, Dale Mitchell, for Washington County court hearing which was cited in the OPB article (see footnote 3) revealed that following the 9/25/15 suspension of Applebee Aviation's commercial license, the company continued to apply pesticides on government land. On 9/26/15, the day following the revocation, Applebee Aviation sprayed pesticides on Oregon Forestry Land in Astoria then on 10/1/15 and 10/2/15 the company sprayed pesticides on BLM land in Lake County, Oregon.

According to Mitchell's declaration on 9/29/15 Michael Applebee presented unannounced at the ODA and asked for an exception. "Applebee stated that the BLM contract was a 3 million dollar contract and that it would cause Applebee Aviation substantial harm if Applebee Aviation could not fulfill the BLM contract." Though Applebee's request for a reinstatement of his license was denied, several days later Applebee Aviation proceeded to spray pesticides on BLM land. During a 10/8/15 meeting with Mitchell, Applebee reportedly stated that "Applebee himself was the only person authorized to halt operations."

Thankfully the ODA moved forward with a restraining order in conjunction with a $40,000 fine. Per Mitchell, "Defendants' act of performing pesticide application activities without a pesticide operators license poses a serious danger to the public health and safety... the Defendants' deliberate violation of the State Pesticide Control Act and an ODA order sends a dangerous message to other pesticide operators that monetary gain is more important than complying with the law."

The Quiet Communities Act of 2015 Introduced by U.S. Representative Grace Meng

October 27, 2015

U.S. Representative Grace Meng from New York, has introduced legislation that would require the EPA to address excessive aircraft noise.

"...the Quiet Communities Act of 2015, would restore the EPA's Office of Noise Abatement and Control, which previously oversaw the nation's noise control activities until it was defunded by the Reagan Administration in 1981 due to budget cuts. The measure would also require the EPA Administrator to conduct a study of airport noise and examine the FAA's selection of noise measurement methodologies, health impact thresholds, and abatement program effectiveness."

As noted by Meng, "Noise is an environmental issue and the EPA has handled mitigation efforts in the past. It's time to take noise control away from the FAA, and give the EPA a try."

Representative Meng "...is a founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus. Established last year, the Caucus works to mitigate excessive airplane noise that adversely affects communities."

To access the 10/2/15 press release, click on the link: Meng Introduces Legislation Requiring EPA to Take Over Efforts to Combat Airplane Noise Over Queens.

Two More Articles on Oregon Aerial Spraying Violations and Legal Repercussions

October 22, 2015

On 10/19/15 the Oregonian published a report, After Weed Killers Drift, Oregon Gets Tough with Helicopter Sprayer by Rob Davis. Per the article, "After initially proposing a $1,100 fine and short license revocation, the state last week said it would suspend Applebee's ability to spray for a year and fine it $40,000. The state found that Applebee had sprayed four times in the last month while its license was suspended."

In addition, the article discusses aerial spray violations by pilot Steve Owen of Pacific Air Research, "The Department of Agriculture has proposed extending Owen's current year-long license suspension by another year. He wouldn't be able to resume spraying until July 2017. The agency also proposed fining Owen and his company $1,480. The decision can be appealed."

Visit the link: Pesticide Spray Victims Tell Their Stories for a Jefferson Public Radio (JPR) interview with Darryl Ivy and Kevin Vanderlei, former Applebee Aviation employees. Both were subjected to toxic pesticide emissions while working for Applebee Aviation, a commercial agricultural aerial spraying company based out of the Apple Valley Airport in Buxton, Oregon. This airport is located off Highway 26 in the foothills of the coast range within two miles of the Banks-Vernonia trail, a popular woodland path frequented by walkers, runners and bicyclists. According to a 7/3/15 Oregonian article this trail attracts over 100.000 visitors per year. (See Washington County Town of Banks Emerging as Nexus of Long Regional Trails.) Applebee Aviation continues to offer flight training and other commercial aviation services at the Hillsboro Airport.

Followup: Applebee Aviation, Aerial Spraying and Toxic Exposure

October 18, 2015

In May 2015, OAW reported on media coverage of reckless aerial spraying and pesticide violations by Applebee Aviation. (See Applebee Aviation, Aerial Spraying and Toxic Exposure.) In the five months that have elapsed since May, there have been additional developments:

Two State Agencies Cite Violations and Levy Fines
Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) reported on 10/1/2015 that the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) and the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) fined helicopter company Applebee Aviation a combined total of close to $10,000 and suspended the company's license to spray pesticides: Pesticide Spraying Firm Penalized After Chemical-Exposure Incident.
Public Advocates Weigh In
Beyond Toxics is a 501(c)(3) organization that according to their website "works to guarantee environmental protections and health for all communities and residents." The Executive Director of the organization, Lisa Arkin, posted the following 10/5/15 blog on pesticide violations by Applebee Aviation: Oregon agencies cite multiple pesticide violations and levy fines against helicopter company in a worker whistleblower case.
Judge Revokes License
On 10/13/15, Oregon Public Broadcasting posted an article by reporter Tony Schick on aerial spraying of pesticides by Applebee Aviation even after their commercial license to engage in this activity had been suspended due to previous violations: Oregon Judge Grounds Aerial Pesticide Sprayer After It Defies License Suspension.
Punishment Escalates as Sprayer Ignores License Revocation
The 10/15/2015 Oregonian reported that the Oregon Department of Agriculture increased its fine when it saw evidence that Applebee Aviation was ignoring its license suspension: State to timber whistleblower's former employer: Pay up, shut down.
Additional Background
Here is some additional background on the effects of pesticide exposure from an OPB report aired in December 2014: How One Complaint Reveals The Flaws In Oregon's Pesticide Regulation.
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