East Hampton Airport Emissions Debated

All eyes are on East Hampton Airport. (Photo by Barbara Lassen)

East Hampton Airport emits 6% of the emissions in the Town of East Hampton and aircraft noise complaints soared across the South Fork last summer, according to a pair of reports that the town released July 6.

The reports are some of the latest to be released, with more in the works, as the town considers potentially closing the airport this fall when it is released from Federal Aviation Authority grant requirements that mandate it remain operational.

“If the airport were to be closed, the airport emissions would be a savings to the local community,” stated the draft air quality report co-authored by Don Wuebbles, a professor of atmospheric science at the University of Illinois. “The effect on total emissions cannot be determined without a diversion study, but local noise produced by the aircraft and overall by the airport would likely be greatly reduced.”

Manhattan-based GEI Consultants issued an analysis of the report, finding that it “likely overstates East Hampton’s [carbon dioxide] emissions by at least two-fold.” 

Representatives Massachusetts-based HMMA, an airport consultant company that the town contracts to manage one of several aircraft noise complaint management systems on the East End, gave its report focused on jet noise in summer of 2020. That report found that there were more than 27,000 aircraft noise complaints last summer on the South Fork, with a fifth of those attributed to jets.

Dozens of residents spoke for and against closing the airport during a three-hour portion of the town board work session dedicated to the topic. Airport backers tout its economic impact while opponents cite environmental concerns.

“These are difficult questions that we all grapple with trying to find what’s best for the community,” said East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc.

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