Another Special Interest Tax Exemption, this Time it’s Idaho

(click on image to read article at GANews)

(click on image to read article at GANews)

Democracy in America, 2016. Our elected officials continue to serve special interests only, while ignoring the issues and growing inequalities that are destroying the not-too-distant future.

Aviation is a major player in this game. Those who are wealthy enough to own an airplane are golden: we coddle them, hoping they may give us a handout. Those with less wealth? Well, they still pay taxes to fix their beater car so they can buy gas and remain just mobile enough to not get fired from one of their two minimum wage part-time jobs.

In this example, legislation was passed in 2012 on the claim that it would ‘level the playing field’ for aircraft maintenance facilities in Idaho, matching the sales tax exemptions on aircraft parts then existing in 23 other states. The state legislature accepted the additional claim that jobs would be created, but demanded no proof that this was even true. Obviously, since airplane repairs and upgrades will happen with or without passage of the legislation, the simple fact is any new Idaho jobs would require elimination of the same jobs in other states. Oh, and the tax exemption is only for out-of-state aircraft; thus, when the legislation passed, Idaho owners became enticed to fly to another state for their repairs.

The whole scheme is absurd. And these tax exemptions do not appear from a vacuum. They are a result of focused lobbying activities, which include donating to reelection funds as a matter of routine. If you are an aviation lobbyist like NBAA.org, you will not only produce documents like the May 2003 report on aviation taxes state-by-state, but you will also advocate for further tax exemptions to attract new memberships.

It seems peculiar that FAA has preempted local management of aviation noise and air pollution impacts, yet FAA looks the other way, allowing local/state regulations that amount to aviation job predation. Perhaps it is time for FAA to turn this ship around, and focus on supporting a NATIONAL Airspace System. How? In general, impacts and environmental matters should be LOCALLY controlled, while safety and general economic policies should be FEDERALLY controlled. Here’s two ideas:

  1. Impose regulations that ensure consistency across all states – removing local/state barriers, to achieve the widest distribution of aviation jobs.
  2. Re-empower local officials – as well as the right of local citizens to vote on aviation noise matters – so as to allow local emplacement of tailored environmental protections consistent with aviation safety.

An aviation regulator, serving the People and not just the industry, would be very different from today’s FAA. How about we ‘transform’ FAA into that new and better regulator?


See also:

Shuster/A4A’s AIRR Act is All but Dead

20160226scp.. AIRR all but dead (FAA Google Alerts)

(a sampling of headlines/articles generated today in a Google Alert on the word ‘FAA’)

The ridiculous scheme to privatize the U.S. ATC system appears to have died a quick death, but give Bill Shuster, Nick Calio, and Paul Rinaldi credit for putting a lot of effort into it.

The legislative proposal was introduced with great fanfare on February 3rd – even a slick video, loaded with spin (not sure who paid for that production!?!, though it looks like an A4A production). The rollout was after years of work and hundreds of meetings with so-called ‘stakeholders’, to craft the precise language that best served their interests. A fatal error was that the ‘stakeholders’ did not include airport neighbors, airline customers, environmental representatives or ANYONE in the general public. As has become routine in recent years, the ‘stakeholders’ set was limited to parties that stood to personally gain from scheme implementation: the airlines, the airline lobbyists, the air traffic controllers lobbyist (i.e., the union NATCA), and potential ATC contractors.

The need for Transformational Reform of FAA/ATC remains. Let’s hope our Congressional leaders get to work pass REAL legislation, including:

  1. restoration of local authority, including the power of local residents to vote democratically on airport activity limits, so as to ensure local citizens lead in the management of airport impacts, and to ensure the airport serves the local community first, industry last.
  2. a complete reconfiguration of the aviation fee & tax structure, so as to:
    • disincentivize overdevelopment of airline hubs (to encourage wider distribution of moderate traffic levels, and to avoid saturated repetitive flight patterns);
    • minimize fossil fuel consumption;
    • maximize percentage of passenger trips that proceed from origin to destination, without layovers.
    • maximize transparency by both airlines and FAA/ATC, to include required annual data reports, so citizens can see quantified progress toward efficiency and environment system goals.
  3. a thorough correction of aviation noise metrics and rules, to include:
    • remove authority from FAA and place it clearly within an EPA noise office;
    • upgrade the false ’65 dNL’ metric with a more realistic ’55 dNL’ metric, and also establish rules based on other non-dNL noise metrics.

This Circus is FREE, and it Comes to YOU!

In an ideal world, our elected officials would tend to the business of keeping our transportation modes moving, such as by non-politically passing FAA’s re-authorization in a timely manner. This world, lately, is not looking too ideal.

BUT, we do get to watch the circus acts and all the AIPs at Work. And, even though it is just video, you can still smell the elephant dung. It comes today via this livestream of the ‘markup’ session for FAA’s Bill Shuster’s Airline for America’s AIRR Act, scheduled to start at 10AM EST:

Here is the 9.5-hour video. Actual hearing starts at time 0:11:43. Went into recess for just over an hour at 5:56:30, resuming at 7:13:58. A ’10-minute break’ at 8:50:55, resuming at 9:16:46.

The Race Past 400ppm Continues…

…with a new Record High. The Keeling Curve atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa measured 402.84 parts per million (ppm) on May 31st, and the May average will soon be announced. A year ago, the May average was 399.76 ppm. Two years ago it was 396.78 ppm; in 2004 it was 380.63 ppm; in 1994 it was 361.68 ppm. Atmospheric CO2 ppm is not just increasing — it is accelerating. In the meantime, government officials fail to address this emerging problem which will raise ocean levels,  intensify weather, and destroy crops. This puts everyone at risk, not just of ‘inconvenience’, but of species collapse.

click on chart to see Keeling Curve at Scripps (ucsd.edu)

Aviation has an exceptionally high rate of CO2 production. An hour spent on a commercial airliner is roughly equivalent to ten hours spent driving a car. In fact, a concerned citizen who minimizes energy consumption can destroy all of their gains by just one long-distance flight. Substituting biofuels is not a solution, as biofuels still contribute to the growing CO2 levels, which are now far beyond what any humans have ever experienced. The only real solutions will include aggressive actions to reduce aviation, such as:

  • the imposition of steep aviation fuel taxes (or an overall carbon tax);
  • the curtailment of aviation subsidies that encourage excessive air travel, especially by businesses and corporations;
  • substantial reduction of air cargo shipment, especially those on all-cargo fleets;
  • and, a careful management of the overall aviation system, to eliminate fuel-inefficient doglegs such as are done when Super-Hubs are used (Atlanta, O’Hare, DFW, Newark, and Charlotte, are among the worst).