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Defense bill language could help military officials point out risks from turbines earlier in development
Language in the National Defense Authorization Act could help military officials evaluate the risks of energy projects like wind turbines near posts and airfields earlier in their development.
The act, which has cleared both houses of Congress and is awaiting a signature by President Donald J. Trump, will require the Military Aviation and Installation Assurance Siting Clearinghouse to conduct a preliminary review within 60 days of an application being received from the Secretary of Transportation.
If necessary, the clearinghouse will issue the developer a notice of presumed risk, which describes the military’s concerns and requests a discussion of actions to mitigate risk.
It also calls for filing of a project area and preliminary layout “at least one year before expected construction” near a military training route or within line-of-sight of any military air route or airport radar to give time for analysis.
Rep. Elise M. Stefanik, R-Willsboro, said the language “will formalize the process” Department of Defense officials and developers use in the creation of such projects. In September, she wrote a letter to Army Chief of Staff and former Fort Drum commander Gen. Mark A. Milley about the potential impacts of wind turbines on the current and future missions at Fort Drum.
“I remain supportive of clean and renewable energy development in the North Country but also believe that we need to adequately assess its impact on military readiness,” she said in a statement to the Times.
The new language also gives a more formal definition for “adverse impact on military operations and readiness” to cover flight operations, research, development, testing, evaluation and training, and defines other terms related to the evaluation process.
The clearinghouse will essentially assume the work of the DOD Siting Clearinghouse, which was established in 2010.
Currently, when a project poses negative impact to national security, the clearinghouse uses Mitigation Response Teams to find ways to address issues with projects to allow it to proceed while preserving military operations.
The development of turbines near Fort Drum has caused some concern due to their impact on aviation and weather radar systems, and became a key part of discussions for the Fort Drum Joint Land Use Study, which assesses current and future areas of development conflict.
Turbine development has been met with some concern in Jefferson County, but in Lewis County they are supported by many officials, who have spoken positively about the economic benefit they have provided local municipalities and schools.
In October, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said his office will review the impact of turbines on the post.
“I see the potential danger, and it’s something I take very seriously,” he said.
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