Friday, November 26, 2004
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It´s time for the U.S. Navy to junk the phony studies that support its decision to build an airfield in an environmentally sensitive area of North Carolina.
The Navy has been caught red-handed producing bogus studies that purported to justify the choice of a 30,000-acre site just outside the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in Washington and Beaufort counties. In response to a court order, the Navy had surrendered 200,000 documents to lawyers for the counties surrounding the proposed site and environmentalists. Included in that cache was e-mail demonstrating the Navy's deception.
The Navy can try to continue to mislead the public about its choice of the Pocosin Lakes site, but it should 'fess up. It is clear from the documents released by the plaintiffs in the U.S. District Court lawsuit that the site was chosen for political purposes and the Navy then rigged a study to justify that site as the best available.
The politics are easy to understand. The Navy currently conducts training operations out of its Oceana facility in Virginia´s Tidewater. Local residents are complaining about jet noise. The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John Warner, represents that area. The Navy wants to make him happy, so North Carolina got the butt end of the gesture.
According to The Associated Press, the Navy documents clearly demonstrate two damning facts. First, the Navy's facilities in Virginia are fully capable of handling the Navy´s foreseeable training needs. Second, Navy leaders chose the eastern North Carolina site and then pressured Navy analysts and researchers to justify it.
It has been obvious from the start that the Outlying Landing Field, as the project is called, was wrong for the spot the Navy chose. The presence of dozens of jets circling the area day and night, making landings and take-offs, would disrupt the peace and quiet of the area and certainly cause ecological harm. Also, with as many as 100,000 migratory birds in the area at this time of the year, the site is extremely dangerous for jet pilots.
This was a bogus proposal from the start. Common sense said as much and now the Navy, in its own words, has presented the evidence that proves it.