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Navy, Air Force share concerns about wind turbines

The Naval Air Station at Corpus Christi, Texas, is faced with the same dilemma that the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) confronts: What impact will at least 70 proposed 620-foot-high industrial wind turbines have on military flight operations?

“I do feel like one day we’re going to wake up surrounded by wind farms in South Texas significantly impacting the mission [of the Naval Air Station] in a negative way,” Capt. Christopher Misner, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Kingsville, said during a Texas Senate Committee on Veteran Affairs and Military Installations hearing in April.

Rear Admiral Dell D. Bull, chief of naval air training, is quoted as saying he’s unsure if naval air operations can safely coexist with industrial wind turbines, “and I don’t know how anyone can say otherwise.”

Similar concerns have been raised about plans by Apex Clean Energy to construct massive industrial wind turbines in the Town of Somerset in Niagara County and the Town of Yates in Orleans County.

Three former high-ranking Air Force officers who served at NFARS recently wrote to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and other state officials. They said that the presence of the massive structures “will inject a major encroachment into the military operating area around the air base, resulting in a major threat to NFARS when the next Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) recommendations are made, possibly as soon as 2017.”

The Cuomo administration is no doubt examining this “green energy” project very closely. The last thing we need to do is to give the next BRAC any reason to consider base closure in Niagara Falls, putting 3,200 jobs at risk. Apex says its project will lead to only 10 permanent jobs.

In Texas, the Navy is now preparing a study to determine the impact industrial wind turbines will have on flight training. With so many towering structures located in Navy operational areas, pilots will have few options for emergency landings and experts said the turbines will negatively impact radar to the point that air traffic controllers will lose the location of aircraft.

Sen. Donna Campbell, a Texas state senator and the committee’s chairwoman, said she won’t hesitate to take action if military flight training is jeopardized by the wind turbines.

We certainly don’t want that in Somerset and Yates, either.

New York State can’t allow the installation of these wind turbines to threaten Air Force pilot safety, and Cuomo can’t run the risk of giving the base closing commission any reason to shut down NFARS. Lives are at risk; jobs are at risk; the future of the air base is at risk.

Pamela Atwater is president of Save Ontario Shores.