A recent letter to the editor (“What is Senator Daniel thinking?” [April 16, 2019] misinformed readers about legislation to protect military bases in eastern North Carolina. Here are the facts.
I co-sponsored the Military Base Protection Act, which proposes banning tall wind turbines in some parts of the state, because of the high risk the turbines pose to military training exercises.
The bill is the product of nearly two years of independent study conducted by the global engineering firm AECOM in coordination with the military installations and the N.C. Department of Commerce.
AECOM compiled data from the military installations to create a classified group of maps that show hazard areas. The N.C. Department of Commerce then used that data to create a simplified public map showing areas where tall structures like wind turbines pose high risk, moderate risk, and low risk throughout the state. The legislation I support bans wind turbines in only the highest risk areas.
The simple truth is this: Military bases house and train members of the armed forces. If training becomes dangerous or impossible in one state, the military will move a base to another state. And tall structures like wind turbines make training dangerous in some parts of North Carolina.
The military is the second-largest employer in North Carolina. It’s responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs and many billions of dollars of economic activity. In some eastern parts of the state, the military is the entire economy. Losing those bases would devastate North Carolina.
The author of the letter I’m responding to inaccurately argued that “no one – I mean no one – in the military or the federal government has said that wind turbines pose a threat.” Had the author listened to the public debate in the legislature on this bill, he would have heard the active duty commander of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base’s testimony. The commander said that he needs “the status quo” to train fighter pilots for low-altitude bombing runs in the dead of night. Obstructions in the training flight path pose a risk to his training mission and to the pilots and aircraft.
A retired general also spoke about the risk of losing military bases if this legislation doesn’t pass. The general explained that another base closure proceeding is likely to happen in the next two or three years, and this exact issue plays a major role in determining whether to a base stays put or moves somewhere else.
The legislature can and should do everything in its power to protect North Carolina’s military bases and the men and women who train here. Putting dangerous obstacles in the middle of training routes is unnecessary and will harm the military and our state for decades to come. A stronger, more prepared military located in North Carolina is good for our state, and good for America. That’s why I support the Military Base Protection Act.