BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said he will testify Wednesday in support of a bill creating a commission to study the health and environmental impacts of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.

Since the 2015 implementation of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Next Generation Air Transportation System, which allows for more flights in the air by guiding planes with satellite instead of radar, the noise for nearby communities has gotten worse, he said.

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He said impacts on residents include sleep disruption, lower academic performance for children, anxiety and high blood pressure.

“So this commission would be positioned to ensure that we have the data we need to make informed decisions to protect the health of our communities and minimize preventable health-related outcomes from the airport and its flight paths,” he said.

Senate Bill 658 is scheduled for a hearing before the Finance Committee on Wednesday at 1 p.m. A cross-filed bill in the House of Delegates, HB 1103, will get a hearing on Thursday before the Appropriations Committee.

According to a Fiscal and Policy Note attached to the Senate version, the bill would create the Maryland Aviation Infrastructure Impacts Commission and require the governor to allocate $430,000 annually between fiscal year 2024 and fiscal year 2027.

The commission would study the impact of construction projects and flight paths, with an emphasis on BWI.

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Lawmakers from the jurisdictions surrounding the airport, Howard and Anne Arundel counties, introduced both pieces of legislation.

Officials with the Maryland Department of Transportation and the agency’s Maryland Aviation Administration have sent joint letters opposing the bills.

Ricky D. Smith Sr, executive director of the MAA, and Pilar Helm, director of government affairs for MDOT, wrote the airport has an environmental review process under the National Environmental Protection Act and deploys 24 permanent noise monitors and three portable noise monitors.

Following a “significant increase” in community complaints, state transportation officials in December 2019 submitted a series of revised procedures to the FAA, and the agency “is actively considering these changes,” they wrote.

Pittman said a group of residents who live near their airport have expressed their concerns about the increase in noise.

Asked about the arrival of Avelo Airlines at the BWI, Pittman said he welcomed a new airline and noted the transportation hub is an economic driver in the county.

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“We just want to make sure that airport noise is considered,” he said.

CBS Baltimore Staff