Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Santa Fe City Council Proposed Resolution on a Training Proposal

 This appeared in last Thursday's Albuquerque Journal, November 4.

Council To Consider Support for Flyover Training

By Kiera Hay
Journal Staff Writer
          Breaking from its neighbors, the Santa Fe City Council is set to consider next week a resolution supporting — with conditions — an Air Force proposal to create a low-altitude tactical navigation (LATN) area in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.
        The measure marks a flip-flop of sorts. City Councilor Rebecca Wurzburger last month introduced a resolution opposing the flyovers — a stance in line with that taken by Santa Fe, Taos and Rio Arriba counties, among others, as well as the city's own Public Works Committee. Wurzburger withdrew the resolution at last week's City Council meeting.

Read more: ABQJOURNAL NORTH: Council To Consider Support for Flyover Training
The Santa Fe New Mexican reported on the Council resolution Monday, November 8.

Santa Fe New Mexican

City considers support of flyovers

Measure on training flights moves forward ahead of impact study

The Santa Fe City Council is moving toward passing a resolution that supports, with conditions, the U.S. Air Force plan for low-altitude training flights over Northern New Mexico.

On Monday, the council's Public Works Committee recommended passage, with a sole dissenting vote from Councilor Rosemary Romero. The measure goes to the full City Council on Wednesday.

The resolution would support a proposal to establish a so-called Low-Altitude Tactical Navigation training area, but only if an environmental assessment, now under way, identifies potential impacts to Northern New Mexico and Santa Fe and determines ways to mitigate the impacts.

"Such impacts include, but are not limited to, possible detrimental effects to air space/air traffic, noise levels, public safety, air quality, physical sciences, biological sciences, cultural and historic resources, land use and recreation, tourism and other socioeconomic elements of the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of affected areas, as well as possible increases in forest fires due to aircraft crashes or flare use," says the resolution sponsored by Mayor David Coss and Councilor Rebecca Wurzburger.

Wurzburger last month withdrew a resolution she had sponsored opposing the planned flights, which also had prompted expressions of concern by officials in other Northern New Mexico communities and counties. At the urging of New Mexico's congressional delegation, the Air Force this fall delayed implementing such a plan while it gathers more public comments.
rest here

My response, emailed to Mayor Coss and the eight Santa Fe City Councilor:

Dear Mayor Coss:                                                                   10 November  2010
Dear Santa Fe City Councilors:

I started my career teaching economics at then Southern Colorado State College in Pueblo in 1971 [I taught quite a few Air Force Academy cadets their economics], and was hired by director Howard McKee to be a part of the Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill  [SOM] Environmental Study group during the summer of 1972 to contribute to an EIS on the Mount Hood Freeway, a study that is still a model for planners around the country.

The irony of this is that Howard is BOTH the poster child of how to do an Environmental Impact Study [EIS] correctly, and how even a committed public servant with a reputation for “building community” can become, along with Chicago entrepreneur and Libertarian Mike Keiser, the poster child of how one can unwittingly be the recipient of enormous wealth transfers from working Americans, what I believe is at play here. [ look inside book here, and read “first pages”]

These experiences (Howard’s and my path crossed several more times on other projects) compel me to advise you that while I find your apparent support of a document that “determines the potential environmental and socioeconomic consequences of the proposed LATN training area on Northern New Mexico" quite laudable, I can unequivocally state that your assertion or belief that an Environmental Assessment can achieve this objective is false. It has absolutely no chance of understanding these impacts.

An EA, by definition, is very brief, keeping its focus only on the impacts of the proposal, and how those impacts might be mitigated. It does not state a purpose that is broad enough so that other alternatives may be considered, which after all, as Section 1502.14. Alternatives including the proposed action, states, beginning thus:

This section is the heart of an environmental impact statement.

By advocating for an EA, rather than an EIS, you are in fact contradicting your avowed interest in wishing to know the impacts.  My experience has made it clear  that without defining the purpose in a broad enough way so as to consider real alternatives (flight training by simulators, mission achieved by UAV  drones, use of Osprey and C-130 in humanitarian missions rather than as death squads) it is impossible to even approach the objectives you seem to think might be achieved with an EA.

In short, you could have a resolution EITHER supporting LATN, OR a resolution demanding an evidence based study of the environmental and socio-economic impacts. You cannot have both.  In fact the outspoken support for a broader mission, that considers socio-economic impacts has been advocated by the President, by General McCrystal, by former and present Secretaries of State Dick Cheney and Robert Gates, by two former Sen. Bingaman aides, Winston Wheeler and Steve Clemons, and countless national forums, by people such as Thomas Friedman, Christopher Preble, Andrew Bacevich,  and Robert Pape. Even the recent Military Times Poll of officers does not support the allegation that this mission has the support of military officers, with 83% recognizing the importance of non-military missions.

Sincerely, Erich Kuerschner, Public Choice Economist, Taos, NM  575.770.3338  Erich's Blog

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