Congressman Rob Menendez Introduces Groundbreaking Communities Before Air Tourism Act

In a bold move aimed at prioritizing local communities and their well-being, Congressman Rob Menendez (D – District 8) has introduced the groundbreaking Communities Before Air Tourism Act. This proposed legislation seeks to strike a balance between the economic benefits of air tourism and the preservation of the quality of life for residents in affected areas.

The problem of tourist helicopters flying over the Hudson River and New York Bay has long been a problem for Hudson County communities in the region; North Bergen, Guttenberg, Weehawken, Union City, West New York, Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne, as well as municipalities in southeastern Bergen County, such as Edgewater, Ft. Lee, Cliffside Park, Palisades Park, Fairview, Ridgefield and Ridgefield Park.

Recognizing the growing concerns voiced by communities affected by the rapid expansion of air tourism, Congressman Menendez has taken a proactive stance in addressing their grievances. The Communities Before Air Tourism Act represents a significant step forward in acknowledging the importance of local residents’ needs, environmental considerations, and sustainable development in the context of the booming air tourism industry.

“Residents of our district should not live with the constant disruption of helicopter noise from air tours, especially at our urban oasis of Liberty State Park,” said Congressman Rob Menendez. “The Communities Before Air Tourism Act will make sure that the voices of our constituents are heard when air tour voluntary agreements are being considered. I am committed to ensuring our constituents are able to enjoy their homes and our public spaces in peace without the negative impacts of tourist helicopter flights.”

“The barrages of helicopter noise from tourist flights are a severe intrusion into the quality-of-life experiences of all who come to peacefully enjoy Liberty State Park.” said Friends of Liberty State Park President Sam Pesin.“The FAA and NPS should be acting in the best interests of our local communities and all those who come from across our state and region to visit Liberty State Park. Thank you to Rep. Menendez for leading this effort and for continually standing up for urban residents and for all who visit this precious urban parkland behind Lady Liberty.”

“Stop the Chop NY/NJ would like to thank Congressman Menendez for his leadership of efforts to address the plague of helicopters afflicting residents on both sides of the Hudson River,” said Stop the Chop NY NJ President Andrew Rosenthal.  “The negative impact of this profits-at-all-costs industry on the quality of life, health and safety of millions of people is obvious. We hope this is just a first step in efforts to address the problem in Congress.”

The Communities Before Air Tourism Act would require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Park Service (NPS) to consult with communities under air tour routes and take into consideration the impact on those communities when entering into Air Tour Management Voluntary Agreements with helicopter operators.

One of the key provisions of the proposed act is the establishment of a comprehensive framework for conducting environmental and socioeconomic impact assessments before permitting the expansion of air tourism activities. These assessments will ensure that potential negative consequences on local communities, such as increased noise pollution, congestion, and strains on local resources, are properly evaluated and mitigated.

Furthermore, the Communities Before Air Tourism Act empowers local communities to have a more active role in decision-making processes concerning air tourism projects. By mandating public consultations and encouraging community involvement, the legislation seeks to foster a greater sense of ownership and accountability, ultimately leading to more inclusive and sustainable development.

Another significant aspect of the bill is its emphasis on promoting sustainable tourism practices. It calls for the adoption of eco-friendly initiatives, such as incentivizing airlines to use more fuel-efficient aircraft, investing in renewable energy sources for airports, and supporting local businesses that prioritize sustainability. These measures aim to minimize the ecological footprint of air tourism while simultaneously fostering economic growth and job creation within local communities.

Congressman Menendez’s Communities Before Air Tourism Act represents a paradigm shift in the approach to air tourism regulation. It acknowledges that the interests of local communities must take precedence over unchecked expansion and profit-driven endeavors. By implementing comprehensive impact assessments, encouraging community participation, and promoting sustainable practices, the proposed legislation offers a holistic solution that benefits both residents and the tourism industry.

While the Communities Before Air Tourism Act is still in its early stages, it has already garnered significant attention and support from various stakeholders. Environmental groups, community organizations, and concerned citizens view this legislation as a crucial step toward ensuring the long-term viability and harmony of air tourism with local communities.

As the bill moves through the legislative process, it is expected to face challenges and undergo revisions. However, Congressman Menendez’s introduction of this groundbreaking act has initiated an important dialogue on the need to strike a balance between economic development and the well-being of communities affected by air tourism. By championing the voices of local residents and advocating for sustainable practices, the congressman has set a promising precedent for future policy discussions in the realm of air tourism regulation.

Congressman Menendez serves on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee – which is the committee of jurisdiction on this issue – and offered this legislation as an amendment during Tuesday’s markup to H.R. 3935, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act. Congressman Menendez will continue to advocate for this legislation when H.R. 3935 comes to the Floor.

To read the bill text, please click here.