Revised Environmental Assessment on HIO Third Runway Proposal

Oregon Aviation Watch Comments on the Port of Portland Announcement on the Hillsboro Airport Proposed Third Runway 12L/30R Public Hearing and Draft Supplemental Assessment (SEA)

Opposed to the Third Runway at Hillsboro Airport? Start preparing your comments now.

By Miki Barnes, MSW, LCSW
March 20, 2013

On March 15, 2013, the Port of Portland announced plans to move forward with the Hillsboro Airport Third Runway project. This proposal was remanded back to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in November of 2009 due to lack of sufficient environmental impact data. The public comment period closes on April 19. A public meeting is scheduled for April 17, 2013 at which time interested parties can submit testimony on the proposed project. Written comments can be sent at any time during the comment period. If you have concerns about the potential increase in the airport's air and noise pollution or increased air traffic, now is the time to make your voice heard.

By submitting either written or oral testimony, you will be in a position to appeal the decision in the event that the FAA once again contends that an airport responsible for emitting nearly a ton of lead into the environment each year along with a host of other toxins and which produces frequent noise intrusions at all hours of the day and night, has no significant impact on the human environment.

Those who have experience in submitting testimony at city council, county commission or similar municipality hearings may reasonably expect that the public hearing on the Hillsboro Airport third runway proposal will include a hearings officer and an opportunity to present oral testimony. Sadly, that is not how the Port and FAA operate. As noted in the announcement (see below), "The purpose of the public hearing is to provide an opportunity to comment on the Draft SEA. The Port will provide a stenographer to document testimony. There will also be comment cards available for attendees to submit written comments on the Draft SEA." There is no indication in the announcement that a hearings officer will be present or that an opportunity will be provided for concerned residents to speak in a public setting, except to a stenographer.

The first hearing on this proposal occurred on 11/10/09. In response to a citizen challenge, the entire project was ultimately remanded by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals back to the FAA for further environmental review. Some of the community members who attended, this writer included, expected to give oral testimony before a hearings officer, but were prohibited from doing so. Instead we were directed to dictate our comments to a stenographer. In my case, due to the considerable noise in the room generated by the open house activities, I was asked to repeat myself several times. At one point a presentation given by the Port of Portland's Senior Environmental Planner, Renee Dowlin, created such interference that the stenographer was unable to hear and asked that the dictation be discontinued altogether until after Dowlin's talk concluded. Thus, even though this is billed as a two hour hearing, the opportunity to give oral testimony may be seriously restricted.

A format of this nature makes it abundantly clear that the Port and FAA place minimal value on listening to community concerns and further serves to underscore their indifference to public participation and input. That's why it is so important to make your comments part of the official record on this issue. If you would like assistance in developing and submitting testimony feel free to contact Oregon Aviation Watch at

Port of Portland Announcement on the Proposed Third Runway

The announcement below was issued by the Port of Portland on 3/15/13.

The Port of Portland (Port) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announce that a Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment (Draft SEA) has been prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 and the Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) guidelines implementing NEPA to analyze the potential environmental impacts of constructing a new runway within an existing airfield. The federal regulatory agency with jurisdiction over civil aviation is the FAA, which must review and approve all proposed facilities and development on airport property to ensure compatibility with safe airport operations.

The Port intends to construct a new, parallel general aviation runway at Hillsboro Airport. The Draft SEA describes the likely environmental, social and economic impacts of the Hillsboro Parallel Runway 12L/30R. The Draft SEA will be available for 35 day public comment period from March 15, 2013 through April 19, 2013.

The Port will hold an open house and public hearing April 17, 2013 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Hillsboro Civic Center, rooms 113B & C located at 150 E Main Street in Hillsboro. The event will provide interested citizens and community representatives with an opportunity to learn about the results of the Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment for the new Parallel Runway 12L/30R. The purpose of the public hearing is to provide an opportunity to comment on the Draft SEA. The Port will provide a stenographer to document testimony. There will also be comment cards available for attendees to submit written comments on the Draft SEA.

The Draft SEA is available at the link shown below.

It is also available for review at the following locations: Hillsboro Main Library, 2850 Brookwood Parkway, Hillsboro Shute Park Branch, 775 SE 10th Avenue, Hillsboro Civic Center, 150 E. Main Street, Port of Portland Headquarters, 7200 NE Airport Way, 8th Floor Reception Desk, Portland, Oregon.

For additional information or to receive a CD copy by mail, please email Renee Dowlin, Senior Environmental Planner or call 503.415.6566.

Written public comments on the Draft SEA should be submitted to:

Ms. Renee Dowlin, Senior Environmental Planner, Port of Portland, P.O. Box 3529, Portland, Oregon 97208 or by email to All mailed comments must be postmarked by April 19, 2013. All comments submitted via email must be received by 5 p.m. on April 19, 2013.

Related Links:

Draft Supplemental Environmental Assessment for HIO Parallel Runway, March 13, 2013

Hillsboro Airport Parallel Runway Project

Hillsboro Airport Parallel Runway Final Environmental Assessment, 2010

Hillsboro Airport Parallel Runway Draft Environmental Assessment, 2009

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