Dear Editor,

In response to your recent (1/5/15) article on the Airport Commission’s December 22, 2014, vote to approve an emissions ordinance, I’d like to say that the city would be wise to listen to Ivan Campbell, Deputy City Attorney. He is absolutely right on this one. The proposed ordinance, in addition to being very poorly drafted, is preempted by federal law, most clearly by the Clean Air Act of 1970, 42 U.S.C. 7573, which states:

“No State or political subdivision thereof may adopt or attempt to enforce any standard respecting emissions of any air pollutant from any aircraft or engine thereof unless such standard is identical to a standard applicable to such aircraft under this part.”

The City of Santa Monica is a political subdivision of the State of California, and the draft ordinance is, unfortunately, a “standard respecting emissions” of certain recognized air pollutants. Because the standards set by the ordinance are different from those set by the EPA under the Clean Air Act, it seeks to regulate something that is outside of the City’s purview.

Commissioner Paulson’s argument that the City would not be trying to regulate tailpipe emissions, but simply evoking proprietary rights as owners of the airport makes about as much sense as a guy who strangles a dinner guest saying that he didn’t commit murder, he just exercised his proprietary rights as a homeowner to determine who gets to breathe within his home. It’s not an argument that’s going to fly — no pun intended.

As Mr. Campbell pointed out, the ordinance is also, in effect, an access restriction on who can use the airport. This will inevitably run afoul of the grant assurances at SMO (extending at minimum to 2023), as well as the 1948 Instrument of Transfer.

This ordinance will quite rightly be seen by the FAA as another attempt to ban the larger jets that currently use the airport — and just like the unsuccessful Category C and D ban, it would result in another ridiculously expensive and failed lawsuit further burdening our city financially.

I sincerely hope that the SM City Council has the wisdom to quash this misguided (and highly transparent) ordinance before it comes to a council vote. The city attorney’s office is on record as saying the ordinance violates federal law — a fact that anyone in the aviation community could readily affirm. This fact alone argues for replacing the majority of our unknowledgeable, anti-airport Airport Commissioners with folks who know something about aviation or are at least able to listen and learn.

Lucas Charbonneau
Santa Monica

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