Thursday, April 23, 2009

So NOW the legislature is wary of an OLF

Just a few years ago, folks in Washington and Beaufort counties were desperately searching for political allies who would help them try to fight off the U.S. Navy's proposal to put an Outlying Landing Field to train aircraft carrier jet pilots on Super Hornet FA/18 jets. But it was rough going for a while trying to find high-ranking officials to get in the Navy's way -- especially at a time when the state of North Carolina was hoping to persuade the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) not to close military bases in this state. Gov. Mike Easley, Lt. Gov Bev. Perdue, Sen. Elizabeth Dole and then-Sen. John Edwards all seemed lukewarm to the idea of crossing the Navy, although all of them expressed sympathy with the plight of residents of the affected area. (The Navy later withdrew its plan and looked for other areas.)

About the same time, Tom Earnhardt, a lawyer and former law professor who was doing a lot of research on the Navy's plans, discovered that the state of North Carolina had long ago waived any power to object to the federal government's acquiring land in this state for courthouses, customhouses, post offices, forts, arsenal and armories. It had done so by adopting G.S. 104.7. Why not, Earnhardt asked legislative leaders as well as top staff for Gov. Mike Easley and Attorney General Roy Cooper, adopt legislation revising that permission when it comes to an outlying landing field? It was a reasonable question, but perhaps because state and legislative officials were worried about the BRAC commission, his idea went nowhere.

How times change. This week, the Senate approved a House-passed bill entitled "An Act Providing That Consent Of The State Is Not Granted To The United States For Acquisition Of Land For An Outlying Landing Field In A County Or Counties Which Have No Existing Military Base At Which Aircraft Squadrons Are Stationed."

The bill, of course, is aimed at discouraging the Navy from putting its Outlying Landing Field anywhere else in North Carolina, including Camden and Gates Counties, which the Navy is now eyeing. The bill by itself won't and can't stop the Navy. But it does make a formal statement of opposition that the state was unwilling to make back when the Navy wanted to put the field in Washington and Beaufort counties.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

OLF don't you mean ALF.......

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