But wind turbines don’t do much of anything for economic development. They provide few local jobs and don’t add significantly to the tax base when benefiting from payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements...[ ]...Legislators from the north country must join forces to see that the radar systems at Fort Drum and in Montague are shielded from interference caused by wind turbines. Taxpayers should not subsidize industries that wreak havoc on something so critical to our national security and regional economy, and our representatives need to move on this right away.
Several elected officials from the north country recently offered their respective takes on why a bill seeking to protect Fort Drum’s mission readiness failed in the state Assembly.
The bill, A09053, would temporarily prohibit state subsidies for wind projects within 10 miles of the Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield and within 15 miles of the Montague Doppler Weather Radar KTYY in Lewis County. Turbines cause blind spots on radar systems, interfering with aviation and weather capabilities.
Assemblywoman Addie A.E. Jenne, D-Theresa, sponsored the bill. The proposed legislation passed in the Assembly Energy Committee in March.
But Republicans put the bill under wraps in the Assembly after that, Ms. Jenne said. She attributed this to the fact that neither state Sens. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, nor Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, sponsored the legislation on their side of the state Capitol.
Mrs. Ritchie said that radar interference caused by wind turbines remains a priority for her. She would pick up the bill once it passed the Assembly.
Mr. Griffo said a bill pertaining to wind projects should balance economic impacts and state environmental goals. He expressed concern over legislation that dealt exclusively with Fort Drum.
We support the bill’s intent to protect the radar functions at Fort Drum and the weather station in Montague. But the boundaries outlined in the legislation when it was introduced came up short. The original language was modified to increase the areas covered, which was an improvement.
So Ms. Jenne has the right idea with her bill, but we’re not certain its failure to gain traction in the Assembly can be blamed on anyone in the Senate. She needs to do a better job at persuading her colleagues this is the correct move.
For her part, Mrs. Ritchie appears to be hedging her bets. Proposed legislation is often introduced simultaneously in both the Assembly and Senate. But she wants to see how it fares in the Assembly before affixing her name to it.
If reducing the problem of radar interference by wind turbines is a priority for her, Mrs. Ritchie should not be shy about supporting this bill. Get the ball rolling in both chambers to ensure it’s passed as soon as possible.
And we need to remind Mr. Griffo of the extraordinary risk he’s taking with the north country’s economy through his reluctance to promote such legislation. Fort Drum is the largest single-site employer in the state. If military officials conclude that its capabilities have been compromised due to wind turbines, they could well decide to close the post or relocate it to another region of the country.
We agree with Mr. Griffo that evaluating any project must take into account its economic benefits and impact on the environment. And it would be nice if a bill could be crafted to protect all military facilities from outside interferences.
But wind turbines don’t do much of anything for economic development. They provide few local jobs and don’t add significantly to the tax base when benefiting from payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements.
Members of the state Legislature must do everything they can right now to ensure Fort Drum is preserved. Waiting for the “best” plan to be crafted, as Mr. Griffo recommended, would be to overlook the urgency of the situation at hand.
Legislators from the north country must join forces to see that the radar systems at Fort Drum and in Montague are shielded from interference caused by wind turbines. Taxpayers should not subsidize industries that wreak havoc on something so critical to our national security and regional economy, and our representatives need to move on this right away.
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