Congress has finished up its work on the U.S. economy and is preparing to flee Washington for their summer recess, which some people — such as U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood — are calling a “vacation.”
One tiny little thing: Congress still hasn’t reauthorized the Federal Aviation Administration. Because the Crenshaw/LAX light rail project will pass near the south runway at LAX, the FAA is supposed to be reviewing the Final Environmental Impact Statement/Report (FEIS/R) for the project.
But the FAA officials who are supposed to be reviewing the document have been furloughed. That is making it difficult for Metro to finish the report, which is supposed to be released to the public soon and go to the Metro Board of Directors in September for their consideration.
Hmm. Here’s the update issued Tuesday from Metro’s government relations staff:
Today, the House and Senate failed to resolve an impasse over efforts to adopt a short-term Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding extension. The lack of agreement means that 4,000 FAA workers will remain on furlough and dozens of airport-related construction projects will remain halted around the nation until at least September, 2011; which is when Congress will reconvene. The FAA’s authorization expired in 2007 and has been extended twenty-one times by Congress until last month, when an impasse between the two bodies created the current partial FAA shutdown.
The FAA is a Cooperating Agency with respect to the Crenshaw/LAX project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). We are preparing a combined EIS/EIR (Environmental Impact Report) to satisfy both federal and state requirements. We have been working with the FAA over the past month to refine the document to address their concerns and secure their concurrence on the EIS. The FAA was to have initiated their final review last week, with a final acceptance anticipated by this week. All three of the FAA officials scheduled to review the draft update of the EIS have been on furlough since Monday, July 25, 2011. We are working with FTA staff and officials at the Office of the Secretary of Transportation to see what can be done to minimize the impact of the FAA furloughs on the completion of the environmental process, including potential strategies to continue the FAA review of the Crenshaw/LAX project’s EIS during the furlough period.