FORT DRUM – Rep. Elise M. Stefanik reiterated her concerns about the potential expansion of wind turbine projects in the area as she toured aviation facilities on Fort Drum.
“One of the strengths of Fort Drum is our airspace, and is our training capabilities,” she said. “We already have wind development projects that have had a negative impact, in terms of when you look at the radar, but when that grows, we need to understand what the overall consequence is going to be for future training at this post.”
Ms. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, was at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield on Friday, and her time there included a stop at the airfield’s 160-foot-tall tower.
Airfield tours and military leadership have given tours at the tower to visiting officials, showing how current turbine projects impact aircraft observation and Air Force weather tracking work.
For both purposes, Army and Air Force personnel said the turbines create areas of impacted visibility, or in the case of weather forecasting, a false input on the radar known as a “ghost echo.”
“It basically doesn’t allow the individual who’s tracking what’s happening in the airspace to see accurate information of the air traffic,” she said. “That’s important when we think of our training capabilities and when we think of future training needs to meet adversaries of the future.”
Ms. Stefanik called the military’s process to review energy projects “informal,” and she argued the Department of Defense needed to codify its review process.
Earlier this week, Ms. Stefanik sent a letter to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley with her concerns about the impacts of turbines at Fort Drum.
However, Ms. Stefanik said the issue should not be seen as an “either or” proposition, noting her interest in developing renewable energy.
“We need to understand and make sure Fort Drum of today and tomorrow is protected in terms of its training capabilities, and those change over time as we have emerging threats around the world and all the security challenges we face,” Ms. Stefanik said.
Ms. Stefanik is one of a growing chorus of lawmakers weighing in on the topic, including U.S. Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand, New York Lt. Gov. Kathy C. Hochul, state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, Assemblyman Kenneth D. Blankenbush, R-Black River and Scott A. Gray, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators. The Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization also announced its opposition to eight wind projects it viewed as threatening the post.
Ms. Stefanik’s tour also included a review of a collection of AH-64 Apache helicopters that were transferred to the division from the National Guard, replacing the division’s collection of OH-58 Kiowa aircraft.
Ms. Stefanik helped block a House amendment that would have delayed the transfer of the aircraft.
She also visited with soldiers and families from the 10th Mountain Division’s 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, which marked the beginning of a deployment to Afghanistan on Friday.
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