Court gives goverment two years to regulate air tours at national parks

Court gives goverment two years to regulate air tours at national parks
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A federal court has ruled that the National Park Service (NPS) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must regulate air tours at national parks within two years. 

The court said that in the next two years, NPS and and FAA will have to require parks with  commercial sightseeing flights to have management plans or voluntary agreements establishing rules with all of their operators. 

The ruling comes after a lawsuit by the groups Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and Hawaii Island Coalition Malama Pono. 

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“For almost 20 years, the FAA and the NPS have allowed an airborne reign of terror to go unmitigated over park skies,” said a statement from PEER General Counsel Paula Dinerstein. “PEER will work with affected communities and parks to, at long last, develop responsible air tour management plans.”

The court stated in Friday’s ruling that the agencies have thus far fulfilled their regulatory duty at just two of 25 parks. 

It attributed a failure to do so to gridlock between FAA, which emphasized air traffic safety, and NPS, which emphasized protecting park resources and visitor experiences. 

In statements to The Hill, officials for both the FAA and NPS said they were reviewing the ruling. 

According to the FAA, the agencies have executed agreements with tour operators at Big Cypress National Preserve, Biscayne National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and Rainbow Bridge National Monument.