Inside the Capitol

Saturday, October 16, 2010

10-22 Let's Help Our Military

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Here we go again. Doing it to ourselves and our country. This time it's complaints about Air Force planes flying overhead on training missions in northern New Mexico.
Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis is now flying C-130 transports and CV-22 Ospreys and needs to fly training missions over the northern part of our state because it is similar to the terrain in Afghanistan.
Now that our nation has become so civilized, it is necessary for the government to hold hearings before doing anything to help protect us. It is a good idea. The White Sands ranchers had no choice but to move when the government decided to create the Alamogordo Bombing Range during World War II.
That bombing range is now White Sands Missile Range and the ranchers still are not back on their land and they never will be. In the process, the ranchers were treated quite poorly.
But the situation is different now. When the government wants to do anything that will affect our lives, it has to work with those affected. In the present instance, it is conducting environmental assessment hearings in areas the planes will be flying over.
The Cannon Air Base representatives are getting quite an earful. Almost no one is turning out to say thanks for what you're doing to defend our country and we want to do our part.
Instead, nearly all the testimony is that the flights will endanger our health, safety, air quality, property values, cultural and historic resources, physical and biological sciences and, wind farms. Yes, wind farms. I thought those folks were against wind farms too.
It's unfortunate transports and ospreys don't bomb or strafe. They could wipe out wind turbines as part of their training. But transports and ospreys are pretty harmless. It's not as though they break any sound barriers to jolt us awake. They just drone by.
The Cannon group reports that with all of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado to use for training flights, they won't be flying over the same areas that often. They will avoid populated areas, airports, noise sensitive areas and wilderness areas.
Nevertheless, the Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Taos county commissions, along with the Taos Town Council and the Las Vegas City Council already have passed resolutions opposing the flights.
And a group from Harding County showed up at one hearing to say they are worried that with all these communities opposing the flyovers, they are going to be the only place left to fly over.
Another round of base closing hearings is expected to begin next year. Cannon already has been downgraded from flying jets. One of the items the Base Realignment and Closing Commission considers is public acceptance. Hostility toward the training flights won't help.
Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque likely will be hurt when the BRAC Commissions looks at the resolution introduced by the four Democrats on the city council to move all the nuclear weapons stored there to Texas. And we aren't even supposed to know about those nukes.
Twenty years ago, the government held hearings in cities along the proposed route from Los Alamos to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad.
People turned out to tell how terrified they were of those trucks and to please let them know when one was coming through town so they could hide in their house or head for the hills.
Our house was about a block from the route until the bypass was finished. We survived quite nicely. It got me to thinking that ever since 1943, unmarked trucks had been coming through Santa Fe carrying nuclear material to and from Los Alamos. And we survived.
Imagine if we had to have a year or two of hearings on the Manhattan Project. Germany, Japan and the USSR would all have beaten us to the bomb. And where would we be now if that had happened?
FRI, 10-22-10WED, 12-6-00

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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