OK, sometimes environmental regulations are a pain. But sometimes they can be a pilot's best friend. So AOPA is out to stop the FAA from exempting itself from some environmental rules when it comes to airspace actions.
"We want our members to have as many opportunities as possible to protest airspace changes that could affect their flying," said Heidi Williams, AOPA director of air traffic services, "and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is another arrow in their quiver."
The FAA is proposing a "categorical exclusion" from certain NEPA environmental review requirements for the establishment or modification of prohibited areas. The FAA also wants an exemption from environmental review for "temporary" airspace actions.
AOPA is opposed.
"Any airspace change that exceeds 90 days in duration should go through the environmental review process, regardless of whether it is called 'temporary,'" said Williams. "We have plenty of evidence that the FAA is using notams to make what are really permanent changes to airspace."
Notams are supposed to be for temporary, short-term changes. Permanent changes are supposed to go through the rulemaking process, including environmental review.
AOPA is recommending that all airspace changes - military operations areas, restricted areas, prohibited areas, and TFRs - lasting more than 90 days be subject to environmental review.
January 26, 2006