Valley Airports Win in House FAA Reauthorization
Washington, D.C. – Fresno Yosemite International Airport and rural airports in Merced County are big winners in H.R. 4, the FAA Reauthorization Act that the House of Representatives passed Friday, April 27th with strong bipartisan support.
The legislation reauthorizes funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through the 2023 fiscal year and includes funding for airport infrastructure, modifies safety procedures, and increases consumer protections for passengers.
More specifically, the bill reauthorizes funding for the Airport Improvement Program, which provides funds vital for Fresno Yosemite International Airport's expansion and efforts to increase services. In addition, H.R. 4 funds Essential Air Service and provides for $10 million annually for small community air service programs. These programs serve rural airports in Merced County and across the country. The legislation also improves funding for the contract tower operating on Merced County Castle Airport.
Beyond extending funding, the legislation revamps regulations governing transportation infrastructure projects and transportation services. San Joaquin Valley Congressmen Jim Costa (CA-16) and Jeff Denham (CA-10) led the charge on two amendments that would directly benefit transportation in the Valley, No. 17 and No. 79. The amendments aim to reduce duplicative and often contradictory regulations to make them more commonsense and effective based on the realities individuals and communities face every day.
Amendment No. 17 eliminates the requirement for redundant construction permits for transportation infrastructure projects. It would allow the State of California, and potentially agencies in other states, to approve all required construction permits. This creates a one-stop-shop for permitting, which streamlines the process while still maintaining environmental and community protections.
When urging his colleagues to support amendment No. 17, Congressman Costa made clear the real effects of the amendment with, “In 2015, Congress passed the FAST Act, which implemented a pilot program to provide reciprocity for environmental permitting and requirements with states, like California, that have laws that provide equal or greater environmental protection… That’s why it makes such good common sense.” Costa continued, “This amendment would further streamline the delegation process… reduce project delivery times and costs, lead to more projects being constructed at a faster rate, and improve our deteriorating infrastructure.”
Both amendment No. 17 and No. 79 passed in the House of Representatives and are thus included in the FAA Reauthorization Act sent to the Senate for consideration.