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Cherry Point’s future

Thursday night’s jam-packed meeting in the Crystal Coast Civic Center, in which county commissioners voted unanimously to impose a moratorium on the issuance of permits for wind energy facilities, showed overwhelming opposition to such projects here.

The issue is a proposal by Texas-based Torch Renewable Energy LLC to erect 40 industrial wind turbines 492.1 feet high and a solar panel farm on 50-75 acres between Little Deep Creek and Little Deep Road near Newport.

For Carteret County and eastern North Carolina, two issues are paramount. First is the future of the Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Base, a Marine Corps bastion of national defense and the major employer in eastern North Carolina.

Second is quality of life in Carteret County and its neighbors.

As we’ve stated before, were the airspace surrounding the Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Base to be endangered by the wind turbines, it would make the base a likely candidate for base closure as a casualty of BRAC. The nation’s national defense notwithstanding, at an annual loss of $2 billion, eastern North Carolina would be devastated.

Other studies regarding the erection of industrial wind turbines in Carteret County conservatively peg tourism and agricultural losses at $13 million, plus a loss of more than 100 jobs. There would also be a net tax loss for the county and Newport as property near the turbines would depreciate, as would the resale value of homes near the turbines.

None of these scenarios are in the best interest of Carteret County or eastern North Carolina.

In Thursday’s meeting, Rocky Ray, vice president of development for Torch, said the company is negotiating with Cherry Point officials to mitigate any possible airspace encroachment.

Mitigating defined means to make the process, or the issue at hand, less grievous or less bad, which is far from being solved or fixed.

Military spokesmen have made it very clear that mitigated issues will be a negative score during a BRAC evaluation, and when the Pentagon is told to reduce spending by $50 billion annually a possible mitigation would be to close Cherry Point.

Couple this with President Obama’s push for renewable energy and his penchant to reward states that voted for him (North Carolina gave Gov. Romney 51% of its vote in 2013), and it’s clear that the future of Cherry Point isn’t set in concrete. Industrial wind turbines infringing on its airspace make it precarious.

Those who think this isn’t possible are smoking what is now legal in Colorado.

Carteret County’s elected officials, as well as North Carolina’s, must comprehend the gravity of what is proposed and the damage it would do to the state and nation and stop it.