Under the expansion plan, Los Angeles International Airport's northern-most runway will be moved away from the central terminal, closer to the communities of Westchester and Playa Del Rey. This will allow for the construction of an airplane-taxiing lane that would accommodate the largest airplanes.
Despite the fact that proponents of the project say the expansion would increase safety and generate jobs, SEIU union members oppose the project for reasons of health to the surrounding communities where they and their families live.
Residents of those nearby neighborhoods are concerned about air quality. Understandably so, the U.S. Citizens Aviation Watch Association (CAW), a coalition of concerned municipalities and advocacy groups, cites several studies linking pollutants common around airports--diesel exhaust, carbon monoxide and leaked chemicals, including lead--to cancer, asthma, liver damage, lung disease, lymphoma, myeloid leukemia, and even depression. CAW is lobbying for the clean up of jet engine exhaust as well as the scrapping or modification of airport expansion plans across the country. In 2011, a Duke University study found that children living close to airports, where leaded fuel is used, have elevated blood lead levels. And as Kevin Drum wrote in his Mother Jones piece, even low blood lead levels have bad health and social consequences.
Currently, aviation fuel is the largest source of lead emissions in the U.S. and will continue to be for at least the next four years.
The FAA has asked, but has not mandated fuel producers to offer options that would safely allow general aviation aircraft to stop using leaded fuel by 2018.
The L.A. City Council voted 10-3 in favor of the expansion project. Airport officials say they could break ground on the north runway plan in four years.
As a congresswoman, I will do everything in my power to put off the expansion plans at LAX until safer fuels and higher environmental and health standards are in place.