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By Sara Strzok,
ROAR Chair

ROAR extends heartfelt condolences to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as well as to their families and to aviation industry employees whose jobs and security are threatened in the aftermath of this national tragedy.

Things have changed a lot since Sept. 11, 2001-for everyone.
Here in the south metro, the skies are quieter, a fact that's sad and troubling when it reflects a flagging economy and concerns about aviation safety. Construction at the airport, including the North-South runway expansion, has slowed to a crawl. Next year's budget for the Part 150 home insulation program has been slashed from $38.5 million to $7 million. The Metropolitan Airports Commission has abandoned plans to purchase the Bureau of Mines land to the north of MSP, land that may have been used for further expansion. The airline industry has been the beneficiary of a massive $15 billion federal bailout. Northwest Airlines, the airport's biggest customer, is pressuring the MAC for rent reductions at the airport, and has laid off thousands of employees. Things are indeed different.

In the wake of the tragic terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, ROAR has been working to redefine its mission. These are our goals:

We will work to bring you information:
As government, industry and private citizens reshape the role of aviation in our local and global economy, ROAR will provide you with information about how decisions made both nationally and locally will affect you, and the way you work, live and travel. Monthly e-mails, special newsletters and regular updates to our web site-www.quiettheskies. com-will make it easy for you to stay informed and get involved.

We will help shape the debate:
What should transportation look like in the 21st century? Is the MAC's 2010 Plan still viable in a new era of aviation? Should business continue as usual at Minneapolis St. Paul International, Eden Prairie's Flying Cloud Airport and the Anoka County / Blaine Airport? Now, more than ever, we need to look at new options for the best, safest and most efficient ways of moving people and products around the upper Midwest, and around the world. For example, the federal government is considering spending up to $37 billion for passenger rail-Minnesota's congressional delegation must be involved in that debate and we should be fighting to establish high-speed rail corridors to compete with air travel between Minneapolis to Chicago and Milwaukee. ROAR will work to get the media, business community, elected officials and planners talking about new ways to approach transportation.

We will advocate for citizens:
Things are shaky in aviation these days, and the industry was troubled even before the events of Sept. 11. But the sky is NOT falling. The airlines will recover, and they're getting plenty of help to do so. Once this starts to happen, and revenues start coming in again (and planes are flying and noise is increasing), we will pressure the MAC and the Minnesota State Legislature to honor their commitments to metro area residents to mitigate noise and airport pollution.
On a federal level, the unregulated growth of the airline industry has resulted in a non-existent national aviation plan, a dangerously outdated and overloaded infrastructure and a volatile industry that's overly vulnerable to market variations. The aviation industry is likely to come out of this crisis looking different. Smaller airlines may go under, and it's possible that the already negligible competition at MSP will dwindle even more if national aviation is concentrated in the hands of three or four mega-airlines.

It's time for state and local governments in Minnesota to address longterm issues of regional airport capacity, competition and pollution. And it's time, too, for the federal government to reconsider the FAA's dual role as promoter and regulator of U.S. aviation. The MAC and the airline industry have plenty of paid lobbyists, who will be advocating at the state and federal level for little change in the way they're regulated and operated. ROAR will work to represent the interests of citizens like you-people who live near the airports as well as those who travel. We hope you'll join us.

 
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