Today’s “must read” opinion piece for those who care about North Carolina state government and the future of clean, sustainable energy is Steve Harrison’s outstanding op-ed in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer. In it, Harrison, and army vet and one of the main driving forces behind the website Blue NC, does a masterful job of debunking the efforts of state Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown and others to do the bidding of the fossil fuel industry by attempting to use the military as an excuse to torpedo wind energy in eastern North Carolina.
After explaining Brown’s contention that wind farms would interfere with the flight paths of military aircraft, Harrison says the following:
“What Brown failed to tell his colleagues in the N.C. Senate is: The FAA is the primary ‘decider’ of what constitutes an obstruction to flight paths in the entirety of U.S. air space. ….The FAA has an entire division dedicated to potential obstructions, including a section that deals specifically with wind turbines. An FAA permit is required before you can even break ground on a wind energy project, and each turbine is assessed individually, not just the whole project. In other words, the implication that state government needed to step in and solve this problem is categorically untrue.
What’s also untrue is Brown’s statement that the Military Affairs Committee has been contemplating this issue for years. While the committee might have been created out of 2013 legislation, it’s really only been formally active for less than a year. And as recently as February, flight path obstructions didn’t make its list of priorities.
By May the issue was included in its long list of priorities, and it had developed a map of flight paths with which it was concerned. But that initial committee map had only three colors (red, yellow, green) designating potential flight paths. These corridors were already large enough; encompassing close to half of eastern North Carolina’s geographical footprint.
But that wasn’t enough for Harry Brown. The map that emerged from the General Assembly had magically sprouted two more colors (orange, dark grey), effectively blocking wind farms in about 85 percent of eastern North Carolina.
While you’re contemplating politicians who would use the military to further other agendas, like the destruction of the clean energy sector, contemplate this also: I am not anti-military. Not only do I support our bases in North Carolina, I’ve trained at most of them. I was stationed at Ft. Bragg for several years, and I’ve made 69 jumps out of both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. I lost a couple of very good friends in North Africa when their helicopter got tangled in some power lines.
I know, probably a lot better than Harry Brown, just what’s at stake on this issue. There is room for both military operations and renewable energy, including wind turbines, in the future of our great state.”
Thanks Steve, for all you do for our state. Great job as usual.