Monday, September 13, 2010

Bev, Marc and Joe to Ray: No OLF, thanks

Just in case you thought the fight over the Navy's proposal to put an outlying landing field in northeastern North Carolina was over a long time ago, the governor and the legislative leadership are still fighting. Gov. Bev Perdue, Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight and House Speaker Joe Hackney have written Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus saying it shouldn't go anywhere in the state that doesn't want it.

The trio wrote they'd welcome an OLF in a community that wants it, but it would be hard to find one in Camden, Currituck or Gates counties, all of which have "clearly expressed" opposition to the landing field. So has the General Assembly.

"The procurement of an OLF in North Carolina must not be forced upon any community that has voiced its opposition to it, both as a matter of good public policy and applicable state law," they wrote.

One reason for that opposition is that the proposed landing field would bring a lot of noisy flights to the area with a lot of jobs that often come with a military installation. The outlying landing field would train jet pilots for aircraft carrier landings, and the Navy wants a relatively sparsely populated area that isn't too well lit at night to train those pilots.  I've long thought that if the Navy really wants it in this state, it will have to create a large number of jobs or somehow bring significant economic benefits to the local community.

The Navy first wanted to place its OLF in Washington and Beaufort counties near the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, but withdrew that plan after a heated fight with local farmers over the loss of productive farmland and with conservationists and environmentalists over the likelihood of bird-aircraft collisions with large migratory waterfowl in the neighboring Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.

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