By Thomas Garcia
Quay County Sun
Quay County Commissioners passed a resolution opposing low altitude tactical navigation flights from Cannon Air Force Base.
“There has been no opportunity for citizens or elected officials to adequately address the LATNs,” said Commission Chair Franklin McCasland. “With no opportunity to discuss our concerns with Cannon officials, the commission had no choice but to pass the resolution.”
McCasland said the last public hearing about the flights was held in Taos (San Miquel County). He said for the residents of Quay County or their commissioners to attend that hearing, it would have been a 200-mile round trip.
McCasland said the flights would allow the planes out of Cannon to fly as low as 200 feet above ground level.
“We have wind turbines that exceed that height,” McCasland said. “That is one of our biggest concerns.”
McCasland said currently there are two wind farms that operate in Quay County. He said the commission has also been working closely with Mesalands Community College’s North American Wind Research and Training Center.
“Will these flights affect the current wind energy businesses and programs established in this county?” McCasland said. “Will the flights prevent future wind energy businesses from moving into our area?”
McCasland said another issue discussed by the commission was the possibility of the wind turbines interfering with military radar.
“If that was the case, could Cannon suddenly say, ‘You can’t build a wind farm here. It is part of our flight plan?’” McCasland said.
McCasland said there had been no environmental impact study provided to the commission regarding the LATN.
The lack of an environmental impact study and possible impact to potential renewable energy development prompted Quadalupe County Commissioners to pass a similar resolution opposing the LATN.
“The citizens felt it encompassed too much area in New Mexico and southern Colorado,” said Quadalupe Commission Chair Glen Gonzales. “The biggest concern was the impact it would have on renewable energy and the economic baseline of the county.”
While both counties have passed a resolution opposing the LATN flights, Both McCasland and Gonzales said their true desire is to meet with officials in order to come to an agreement over this issue.
McCasland and Gonzales said the resolution has been set up in an effort to resolve the issues and concerns with a meeting with Cannon officials.
“We recognize the boost and benefits which have come from the Special Operations Wing being stationed at Cannon Air Force Base,” McCasland said.
“We do not in any want to harm or hinder the good which has come from the operations out at Cannon,” Gonzales said.
Cannon held eight public meetings, four in New Mexico and four in Colorado, to help educate the public and elected officials on the details of the LATN proposal, said U.S. Air Force Capt. Larry Vanderoord.
Vanderoord said this was only the initial scoping period, and additional meetings may be scheduled in the future as the process progresses.
By Thomas Garcia
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