For the full Sierra Club, Federated Conservationists of Westchester County, and Food & Water Watch’s Position Statement – click HERE. It is a resource and freely available for distribution.

NO to LaGuardia North

STOP Westchester County Airport Expansion & Privatization

Citizens must take action now to prevent expansion & privatization that will lead to environmental harm and the loss of accountability at the airport.

Not only is the Westchester County Board of Legislators considering bids to privatize Westchester County Airport, but the final draft of the airport master plan calls for a dramatic expansion in airport traffic. If the airport is privatized, this may be citizens’ last chance to guide the future of the airport.

The airport master plan calls for dramatic expansion

  • Predicts a 68% increase in airline flights on large jets by 2032 by ignoring laws that limit airline traffic.[1]
  • Calls for a 50% increase in overnight parking for airliners to facilitate more early morning departures.[2]
  • Reserves space next to the terminal for “future modernization”[3] and recommends adding two gates.[4]
  • Calls for $153 million in public funds to build and renovate facilities for corporate jets.
  • Calls for $49.5 million in public funds to build two new parking garages next to the airline terminal with about 1700 spaces[5]

Privatization will cause harmful conflicts of interest and may cause a loss of accountability

  • Privatization will incentivize the county to maximize profits at the airport, perhaps by increasing traffic, decreasing security, or decreasing environmental protections. The county could change laws to accommodate a private operator.
  • Privatization may fundamentally change the relationship between the airport and the community. Depending on the terms of the lease, the next 30-40 years of decisions at the airport could be made in private rather than being subject to regular and continuing public oversight.
  • The private operator will maximize profits, perhaps at the expense of the community. Regulatory oversight of for-profit enterprises is difficult and prone to cheating, as we saw in the financial crisis.

Privatization will likely accelerate expansion and cause increased noise

  • Current law restricts airlines to 240 passengers and 4 arrivals or departures per half hour, but airlines could schedule 2.6x the number of flights today without any change in the law.
  • There are no constraints on the number of private flights. These flights account for 85-90%[6] of airport operations and most noise complaints and curfew violations.[7]
  • The easiest way to profits is by increasing aircraft traffic. Private operators want to make “capacity enhancing capital expenditures” to realize at least 9-11% returns on our “underutilized” airport.[8] [9]
  • Private traffic could shift to Westchester from Teterboro Airport in NJ, which has strict noise restrictions that we do not have.[10] If all of the flights at Teterboro came to Westchester, we would have double the flights we have today.[11]
  • Expansion will increase aircraft noise, air pollution, motor vehicle traffic, and the threat of contamination of groundwater and of the Kensico Reservoir.

Privatization may threaten our drinking water and put the county at financial risk

  • Some stormwater from the airport flows into the Kensico Reservoir, which supplies 90% of the water in NYC and much of Westchester. Over 9 million people get their drinking water from the reservoir, which is not filtered before it is delivered to taps.[12] Under county control, millions have been spent to minimize and monitor the flow of airport stormwater into the Kensico Reservoir.
  • A filtration plant to deal with contamination of the Kensico Reservoir could cost over $12 billion. The potential proceeds from privatization are insignificant by comparison.
  • The private operator is required to maintain only $5 million per incident and $10 million total of pollution insurance.[13] This is inadequate to clean up a chemical or fuel spill into the Kensico Reservoir.