Press Releases

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) successfully included a provision in the Updated Heroes Act which passed the House this week that would help transit agencies make the most of unused land for community-based organizations and housing.

“Innovative and valuable projects across the nation are being held up due to an unnecessary roadblock in transferring land from transit agencies to local non-profits and community-based organizations,” said Rep. Adam Smith. “This includes progress on the Youth Achievement Center here in King County, a vital initiative to bring housing, health care services, jobs training and education, and other services to youth. I am proud to have secured inclusion of a provision that would give federal entities an easier path to transfer unused land to nonprofits and community-based organizations. I applaud the tireless efforts of Councilmember Zahilay, Peter Rogoff, and others who raised this issue and continue to work to meet the needs of King County through the development of the Youth Achievement Center and other projects.”

“Government has an obligation to use our resources expeditiously and effectively to meet the needs of the community,” said King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay. “Underutilized publicly-owned land can be a vital resource to build new foundations in historically marginalized areas of our country. Transferring ownership over for new housing, commercial centers, and facilities for necessary services is the pathway to thriving communities. Congressman Adam Smith has been an incredible federal partner in achieving this vision. By relaxing federal red tape and bureaucratic hurdles, he and his team will ensure designated publicly-owned land in King County (and possibly the entire country) can be quickly transferred to communities and used for housing and other needed amenities.”

“This provision will support Sound Transit in partnering with non-profit organizations to help turn our surplus properties into wins that will advance equity for the residents of our communities,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. “We are grateful to Congressman Smith for his tireless support for building not only transit investments but other community infrastructure that our residents need to thrive.”

Current federal law makes it difficult for nonprofit organizations and other non-governmental organizations to acquire unused lands from transit agencies to create projects that will benefit the local communities. Congressman Smith’s provision included in the Updated Heroes Act removes this red tape, making it easier to transfer land from the federal entities to local organizations to make way for projects that benefit local communities. This would help support housing and other community-based organizations working to expand housing and other services to their communities, including the Youth Achievement Center in King County. 

Community-based organizations in Washington state and across the country are working to bring projects to life that will better serve the needs of communities such as providing affordable housing, access to health care, and other services for underserved communities. Nonprofits that were already struggling for resources have been hit even harder by the COVID-19 pandemic. This provision would alleviate a significant roadblock these organizations face so they can more easily kickstart valuable projects and fully realize their innovative ideas.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement today following the announcement that Boeing would consolidate 787 Dreamliner assembly in South Carolina, ending production in Everett, Washington.

“With an unparalleled workforce, Washington state remains the best place in the country for the aviation and aerospace industry to do business. Boeing’s decision to move its production of the 787 Dreamliner out of Washington state is deeply disappointing and illustrates the shortsighted approach of many large corporations.

“It is unfortunate that Boeing has not engaged in a meaningful way with elected officials at the state and federal level to maintain their presence in Washington state, and that more notice was not given about the timeframe and scale of the consolidation effort. Boeing’s employees and their families deserve better, and there must be a fair plan laid out for workers impacted by this decision.

“The Puget Sound region and Washington state will remain an unmatched place for the aviation and aerospace industry with workers who maintain the highest industry standards of production. Our strong education system, skilled workforce, and robust supply chain are not going anywhere. I will fight to support the workers impacted by this decision, ensure other Puget Sound workers in the industry are able to keep their jobs, and further grow the aerospace and aviation industry in the Pacific Northwest.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) released the following statement today after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 925, the Updated Heroes Act, which would address the continued public health crisis and provide desperately needed support for struggling families and essential workers.

“We have surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 deaths and 7 million cases in the U.S. – it is long past time for Senate Republicans to take action. The Updated Heroes Act makes clear that House Democrats are willing to do what is necessary to provide our communities, workers, and families urgently needed health and economic relief amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Like the Heroes Act passed by House Democrats in May, this bill includes vital support to communities including aid to state, local, and tribal governments; an extension of small business relief through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and expanded unemployment benefits; another round of direct payments to individuals and families; rental assistance and an extension of the eviction moratorium; and enhanced food security benefits. Importantly, the bill also makes investments to combat the pandemic itself with money for testing, contact tracing, vaccine distribution, and personal protective equipment.

“Nine months into the pandemic, it is unconscionable that President Trump and his administration still refuse to take the pandemic seriously and Congressional Republicans remain unwilling to act. Individuals, families, and businesses across the country are still struggling. It is imperative that Congressional Republicans and the White House finally face the reality of this crisis and work with House and Senate Democrats to advance legislation that meets the needs of our communities.”

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement after joining Congressional colleagues in pushing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to meaningfully reevaluate alternative metrics to the current 65 Day Night Level (DNL) standard.

“For years, communities across the nation have continued to experience an increased and disproportionate share of noise and other environmental impacts stemming from commercial aviation, and concerns of residents in these areas are not being adequately addressed. The 2018 FAA Reauthorization included several requests for reports on metrics for evaluating noise impacts on airport communities. Unfortunately, the report released by the FAA this spring on alternative metrics to the 65 DNL standard was woefully inadequate.

“I was pleased to join my colleagues in requesting a revised report on alternative metrics from the FAA so that Congress can truly understand what alternative measurements may be more useful in developing policies to mitigate noise and to designate impacted communities. As the letter points out, the FAA’s recent report reveals that the agency is interested only in treating supplemental noise metrics as an asterisk to noise measurement rather than a comprehensive toolbox from which to address noise impacts.

“The FAA’s report failed to seriously analyze and consider widely used alternative metrics to the current 65 DNL standard to measure noise impact, to use in flight procedure design, or to inform decisions to alleviate existing noise despite being directed by law. It is unacceptable that the agency dismissed and ignored alternative metrics to their current average, and they must get back to the drawing board to include the potential use of such metrics in the U.S.”

You can read the full letter here or below:

  

Steve Dickson, Administrator
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
Office of the Administrator
800 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20591

Dear Administrator Dickson:

As Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, we write to express deep concern regarding the Federal Aviation Administration’s Report to Congress dated April 14, 2020, on its findings pursuant to Sections 188 and 173 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-254). After conducting a detailed review of the FAA’s report, we find it wholly inadequate, failing to meet the mandate in the law.

As you know, Section 188 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 mandated the FAA to “evaluate alternative metrics to the current average day-night level standard, such as the use of actual noise sampling and other methods, to address community airplane noise concerns.” Further, the law directed the FAA to provide Congress with a detailed report on its findings. On April 14, 2020, the FAA released the report, and in addition to reporting on Section 188, the FAA also used this report to address Section 173, which states: “Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall complete the ongoing evaluation of alternative metrics to the current Day Night Level (DNL) 65 standard.” It is our assessment that this report entirely fails to seriously analyze and consider alternative metrics to the DNL 65 standard.

First and foremost, the report fails to evaluate well-respected and widely used alternatives, including: the Cumulative Noise Equivalency Level (“CNEL”) metric, which California uses to evaluate aircraft and other noise exposures1; the ISO 1996-1:2016 (“Acoustics – Description measurement and assessment of environmental noise”), an international standard specifically adopted to identify community noise concerns in general, but airplane noise in particular2; and the European alternative to the DNL metric, known as the DENL, or the day-evening-night level metric. The latter noise metric disaggregates evening and night noise levels to address the fact that communities experience noise events differently during the day, the evening and the nighttime sleeping hours. A credible evaluation of alternative noise metrics and the 65 DNL standard would have addressed the correlation between each metric and the known noise impact on communities in a NextGen environment, similar to a comparison done in an FAA-funded 2011 report on replacement metric research.3 However, in lieu of providing a thorough evaluation, the report merely describes DNL and a number of alternative metrics, while offering an incomplete and at times inaccurate comparison of DNL to those alternatives.

Furthermore, there are glaring absences in the FAA’s assessment that render it incomplete. For example, the report fails to analyze complaint data despite the fact that the FAA itself utilized complaint data as a lawful alternative metric in its 2013 federal court case against Helicopter Association International, Inc.4 Failing to mention any role for complaint data would appear in contrast to FAA’s Noise Complaint Initiative begun in the last 12 months, allowing direct reporting of noise events to FAA. The report also lacks the scientific nuance the agency demonstrated in 2019, when the FAA funded a research project at MIT to evaluate metrics and assess the impact of frequent overflights; that study concluded that the Number-Above (NA) metric provided an effective correlation to aircraft noise impacts on the public,5 but is scarcely mentioned in this report. Even commonly used metrics are overlooked, such as the metrics for construction noise and the concept of sones. Construction noise metrics are regularly employed across the United States and capture greater noise nuance than the DNL standard. Sones represent the perception of loudness and help capture aviation noise annoyance. In our estimation, the FAA report merely stands by the agency’s existing DNL metric and enumerates existing methodology with no regard to the value of improved and updated alternatives.

As a result, the FAA is effectively treating supplemental noise metrics as an asterisk to noise measurement rather than a comprehensive toolbox from which to address noise impacts. The FAA relegates supplementary metrics to an ancillary role by asserting that, “No single noise metric can cover all situations,”6 and that while the “DNL metric is FAA’s decision-making metric, other supplementary metrics can be used to support further disclosure and aid in the public understanding of community noise effects.”7 Nowhere in the report do we find clear guidance on how and when supplemental noise metrics could be used in flight procedure design decisions or to alleviate existing noise – even as the public health impact of noise continues to spread. U.S. standards to protect human health from airplane noise are not only glaringly ineffective, they also trail Western Europe’s. In its 2018 Noise Guidelines for European countries, the World Health Organization recommended using a threshold of 45 dB or lower for day and evening aircraft noise8 – that constitutes 20 dB less than the DNL metric employed by the FAA, which also does not disaggregate evening-levels from night. Far from trailing Western European nations, the U.S. should be demonstrating global leadership to mitigate the public health effects of aircraft noise.

When the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 was passed into law, Congress sought to address community airplane noise concerns by utilizing the scientific and research arms of the FAA to substantively evaluate alternative noise metrics with an eventual eye to having those metrics inform FAA decision-making. There is widespread consensus that the DNL metric remains an inadequate measure because it averages noise over a 24-hour period, thereby understating the impact of individual noise incidences. Thus, the congressional intent underpinning Sections 188 and 173 was to address the inadequacy of the DNL metric and nudge the FAA towards a more comprehensive measure. The report fails to understand that intent. Instead, we have received a delayed and highly insufficient report that does not address community impacts of noise.

Therefore, we, the undersigned Members of Congress, insist that the FAA return to the drawing board and meaningfully evaluate alternative metrics to the current DNL 65 average, not just dismiss or ignore them, and include the potential for the use of such metrics in the United States. Furthermore, we seek formal responses to the questions in the appended Citizens’ Response Report, a Technical Report to the FAA’s April 2020 Report on Alternative Noise Metrics (Reauthorization Act of 2018, Sections 173 and 188). The concerned constituents who raised these eleven questions live in communities directly affected by increased noise from NextGen implementation. We request formal responses to each question.

Without a thorough and nuanced analysis of the DNL standard and better, more accurate metrics, progress on aircraft noise will remain elusive. It is therefore imperative that the FAA meet its congressional mandate and begin the report anew while also addressing our constituents’ questions. We look forward to the agency’s response, including its plans to follow through on our request.

Sincerely,

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (WA-09) and Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging the State Department to work with the Ethiopian government and other stakeholders to address violence and violations of human rights in Ethiopia.

“As representatives of one of the largest Ethiopian Diaspora groups in the country, we are alarmed by the growing unrest and reports of human rights abuses in Ethiopia,” wrote Reps. Smith and Jayapal. “Ethiopia is an important partner in the region that helps promote security and economic and political stability… Disturbing reports of widespread violence against ethnic and religious communities threaten the stability and social fabric of the country.”

“Furthermore, we are concerned about the arrests and detention of individuals, particularly youth, that are potentially politically motivated,” the Reps. continued. “A peaceful and stable Ethiopia is important to the United States, to security and prosperity in the region, and to the Ethiopian Diaspora communities across the U.S. We urge you to work with the Ethiopian government and other stakeholders to bring an end to the violence and restore democratic norms and human rights in Ethiopia.”

You can read the full letter here and below:

The Honorable Michael R. Pompeo
Secretary
United States Department of State
2201 C Street NW 85
Washington, D.C. 20520 

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

As representatives of one of the largest Ethiopian Diaspora groups in the country, we are alarmed by the growing unrest and reports of human rights abuses in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is an important partner in the region that helps promote security and economic and political stability. We urge the Department of State to do everything in its power to work towards a peaceful resolution to the violence and to restore democratic processes and human rights.

When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in 2018, we were encouraged to see his commitment to economic and political reforms within Ethiopia and to pursuing peace with neighboring countries. Unfortunately, recent events undermine progress in these areas. Excessive use of force against protestors by the Ethiopian security forces have been documented. This comes on the heels of limits on free speech and restrictions on an open internet that run counter to the inclusive, open political reforms committed to by Prime Minister Abiy early in his tenure. In addition, disturbing reports of widespread violence against ethnic and religious communities threaten the stability and social fabric of the country.

Furthermore, we are concerned about the arrests and detention of individuals, particularly youth, that are potentially politically motivated. This includes the arrests of two Washington state residents on June 30, 2020, Yusuf Beshir and Redwan Aman. Both have since been released on bail but are not allowed to leave the country. Concerns for their safety remain especially as violence and unrest grows. We ask that you work with the Ethiopian government to ensure due process in their cases and the safe return of both Yusuf and Redwan to their communities here in Washington.

A peaceful and stable Ethiopia is important to the United States, to security and prosperity in the region, and to the Ethiopian Diaspora communities across the U.S. We urge you to work with the Ethiopian government and other stakeholders to bring an end to the violence and restore democratic norms and human rights in Ethiopia.

Sincerely,

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