The U.S. Navy Surrenders

Washington County, NC is finally safe. The migratory birds and Red Wolves are finally safe. The families and neighbors of Washington County are finally safe. They're all finally safe from the threat posed by the U.S. Navy. Safe from the threat of noise, the threat of pollution as well as the threat of loss of their property and their livelihoods. The United States Navy is finally giving up their plan to locate an outlying landing field in Washington County.

Before we start to celebrate, there are two more locations in North Carolina and three locations in Virginia that are under consideration. The Charlotte Observer doesn't have the full story posted yet, but while I'm hunting that down maybe Parmea will stop by and bring us that information.

We've celebrated small victories along the way just to have a wrench thrown in to muck things up. Finally, it looks like Washington County is off the table. I wonder what other pristine piece of paradise the Navy wants to ruin?

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Comments

RIP

I never really wanted to be an adversary of the US Navy, but their behavior on this issue has made me question a lot of their other decisions. They have behaved absolutely without integrity, giving off the same stench one finds wafting from the White House these days.

I just heard this on the radio and ran over to post it.

Of course you beat me to it.

Power to the OLF Grannies, Parmea, and everyone who fought against Site C.

No OlF - anywhere in NC.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

The N&O has a story up too.

Here it is.

"For nearly a decade, Senator Basnight has opposed the Navy's efforts to build an OLF in northeastern North Carolina," said Schorr Johnson, a spokesman for Basnight. "He has said that locating an OLF in a rural, economically distressed is absolutely unacceptable. With today's disappointing news, Senator Basnight vows to continue to fight on behalf of families who have worked this land for generations."

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole said she was discouraged by the Navy's failure to consult with local leaders in Camden, Currituck and Gates counties. She said she would oppose the Navy's efforts to acquire any site that lacks broad local support.

That Elizabeth Dole is totally without shame. I don't know how she can even look in a mirror any more. After years of selling northeastern NC down the river, now she's all about helping the poor folks she just about buried.

Elizabeth Dole is the reason this OLF problem even existed in the first place.

OOOOOO MMMMYYYYY!

The five original sites have been officially removed from consideration by the Navy for an OLF! I just had to write that! Great job by all who have written to representatives, interest groups etc expressing your opposition to this OLF. Thanks all who have dedicated a lot of time working behind the scenes opposing this process. Thanks to the people of BlueNC who stood shoulder to shoulder with us in Northeast North Carolina in solidarity against the Navy. Our collective voices was acknowledged by the Navy and our representatives and we convinced all concerned that this current plan is just not viable.

The Navy could not or did not want to fight any more for these original sites. So the Navy has surrendered.

The five sites analyzed in the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Bertie, Craven, Hyde, Perquimans and Washington/Beaufort Counties, NC) are NO LONGER UNDER CONSIDERATION AS POTENTIAL OLF SITES!!

Yea, I did some minor emphasizing. Gotta give me that one! (from Department of the Navy, Office of Information, 1200 Navy Pentagon, Washington, DC 20350 dated 22 Jan 2008, cannot find an internet copy)

Wait, what was it the Navy just said????

The five sites analyzed are NO LONGER UNDER CONSIDERATION AS POTENTIAL OLF SITES!!

Man, is that music to my ears!

As far as I am concerned, this chapter in the fight against the Navy unfairly treating the people of North Carolina differently then the people in Virginia is over.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

What really ticks me off to no end was if not for some tundra swans, the OLF Grannies would not have had the opportunity to mount this fight. I would not have had the opportunity to bring the research I found concerning this project to people, my senators (both state and federal), my congressman.

If not for these swans, 30,000+ acres of land in Washington County would have been taken from the rightful owners for a facility that the Navy said was never needed.

The Next time you see a flock of geese, swans and ducks flying in their wonderful VEE formation, thank them.

Just in case you missed this...

The five sites analyzed are NO LONGER UNDER CONSIDERATION AS POTENTIAL OLF SITES!!

{grin}

Parmea, I watched a flock of geese tonight as the sun was setting and wondered if they had made their way over here (central NC) from over there. There are a bunch of them right now at a lake near my house - they always stop there for a while during Jan/Feb. I might name one of them Parmea after you.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I too saw a flock of geese

while talking with my neighbor about this OLF development tonight. I pointed at them and said, "now theres the sound of freedom!" and I thanked them for being in my county.

A lot of folks helped in this fight. A lot of geese would get a name if you named one for me. I just tried to educate folks as fairly as possible.

Now if we can free the last two NC sites from this mess, it will be awesome.

I honestly belief the Navy has a site already picked out and probably are working on the incentive package that Owens and Smitty mentioned. They are not going to restart this entire process without having that skid greased already. Sad thing, which of the 5 has sold their soles for a few pieces of silver.

With them totally scrapping the original 5 sites, they do not have a fall back plan anymore. They must now sink or swim with these new 6 sites (NO new OLF option being the 6th site).

Im still amazed how quietly the Navy surrendered the original sites. Almost as an after thought. They brought 5 communities through hell for so long. I am glad, thrilled, relieved, jubilant, to be released from this process. It is a bitter sweet day as I know what it is going to be like for these 5 new sites.

Really I do not. Only people like the OLF grannies know that. Ladies, you where put through hell by the Navy for something that was never required. I hope someone in the Navy comes to you and apologizes for the anguish they put you, your family and your communities through. I doubt the Navy will.

The Navy stated so many times that they did a thorough review of all the available sites and Washington County site was the best site. Now one of these 5 new sites is going to be the best site. My aching butt. All the Navy is doing is correcting all the screw ups they did on the last EIS and making this next EIS "iron clad".

There should only be 2 sites being studied. The site the Navy has already chosen as their new preferred site and the NO OLF option. But First, prove this thing is required. They cant, but that will never be an issue. There are to many Owens and smitties for the requirement issue to be considered.

Sigh, the next chapter in the OLF struggle begins already

The Navy scrapped the EIS study that they have been working on since the late 1990s and will create a brand new shinny EIS that will address the need aspect of a second OLF requirement for NAS Oceana. From same source above....

These five alternative sites, as well as the no action alternative, will be fully evaluated in a new EIS in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act before making any further decision on constructing an additional OLF. This analysis is expected to take about 30 months to complete.

Throughout this process the Navy will continue to work closely with the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of North Carolina on these new sites and the Congress on this matter. The Navy believes that by working with state and local officials, we can understand their perspective on the issues and seek common ground on ways to mitigate impacts and identify potential benefits.

Things to watch out for......
the No action alternative, which is the only alternative for North Carolinians, will be dismissed in such a way that no one will be able to "dispute" the Navy conclussions. It will be shown in this new OLF study that yes, an OLF is required. The fact that the Navy still has the no action alternative on the table after 8 years of studying indicates that they do not know what they are doing. If they do not know whether they do or do not need this, this process is already flawed. Something is stinking on the Navy wharfs already with this process and it has not even started.

The Navy might actually perform this study within the strictest interpretation of the NEPA requirements, but the spirit of NEPA will be lost. The Navy will dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s, but the actual need aspect of this will not be proven.

The Navy should have a liaison representative in Gates and Currituck Counties, or at least a method of communications to this study body accessible to North Carolinians. A phone extension in Norfolk that is a local extension, an email address that will be monitored and answered by Navy representatives that can answer questions at any time (normal working hours).

The Navy should come to Gates and Currituck Counties and spell out their requirements right now. They know what it is. They should also explain why these two sites where carried forward. They should explain how NAS Oceana will be a viable master jet base for the future (elevating the question of what would have happened to Oceana if the city of Jacksonville, Fl would have voted to reopen Cecil Field?)

The Navy needs to explain upfront to the local community and local governments their role is this process now and in the future. The Navy also needs to explain the authorities and limited authorities they have regarding this. The Navy needs to explain the role of Congress in this. Why is Congress involved in this in the first place? Why does the Navy have to go to Congress, etc. Does Congress have the right and responsibility to tell the Navy they do not need this OLF as a facility required to maintain the Navy.

Watch out for the quid pro quos of this.

Because the Navy scrapped the last study, all the information that I was utilizing against the Navy is now gone. It is a clean slate, or at least that is what the Navy is going to want to state.

The Navy is going to want to remove the most damaging statement from this discussion. Page 12-1 of the EIS stating that an OLF is not required if most or all of the planes are homeported at Oceana.

The Navy is probably going to remove alternative 6 from the table? No planes to Cherry Point if one of the two NC sites are not chosen.

All bets are off now. Anything is available to be said. Everything that has been said in the past is now overcome by events....The Navy thinks it is playing a whole new ball game with the score 0 - 0 and everyone is happy with each other.

What will be the new tact of the Navy to convince people to allow them to place this second OLF in their community but still not fix the problems found around Oceana and Fentress? Regardless of how the Navy packages this second OLF, it is still a s@$% sandwich. I hope people realize that before they take that huge bite.

One thing I do know, the Navy already has a plan. They probably already have a community picked out and are working that community. Giving them deals, etc. If that is the case and the local community buys into that.......

The Navy stated that it had more lawyers then any group of farmers could come up with. They backed off that. Wonder why?

I will continue to fight this OLF and continue to study the Navy's EIS documentation ready to support any community where the local community and local government does not wish this thing. That has been my stance on this for over 2 years now.

Today, I celebrate!

The peoples voice is still heard in America

President Bush and the Republican Party (And some Democrats) have failed to frighten and intimidate enough to silence the voice of freedom,liberty and reason..

Good on ya... to all who stood up and spoke up! ..... Libby and Burr... No Soup For You!!!

Next!!!!!??

Marshall Adame
2014 U.S. Congress Candidate NC-03

The N&O ... almost there

For those reasons the Navy is owed an open mind. Even if it was reluctant to yield on the Washington County site, the service has acted in good faith to find alternatives. The five new locations ought to be judged on an orderly and sensible basis, certainly with the environment and a community's culture and economy taken into account. That said, hard questions should be asked as to whether the Navy might be able to get along without a new OLF after all. Might conditions have changed since the need first was projected?

Political arm-twisting or gamesmanship between North Carolina and Virginia leaders shouldn't play a part in the decision. If an OLF must be built, the goal should be to choose the site that causes the fewest adverse impacts of all kinds, regardless of where it happens to be.

This is the closest the N&O has come to tackling this issue head on. But if one of their folks were to wade through all the Navy's background material, they'd quickly see that they're asking the wrong question.

The Navy never needed a new OLF. They WANTED one ... and only because of political posturing in Virgina.

this is a huge document, sorry

and I really do not expect many people to read it. It is a rant at N&O editorial...... Wish I knew their email addy.

If it is to huge and takes up to much room on the server, please delete it. Parmea. Flame on Anglico it is long! My head is already on the choppin block! gulp.

Editor, News and Observer,

For many people in Northeast North Carolina, this OLF was not about birds. It was about our communities, our way of life, our heritage. It was about being treated equally and fairly by the Navy as compared to our Northern neighbors. It was about asking what right does the Navy have to dictate to farmers how, what, and when they would plant their crops. It was about keeping our identities as farmers and people who just wish to live our lives on the lands our fathers provided for us. It was never about what can we get out of the Navy. It was not a political statement. We were not on an anti-Navy crusade. We wanted truthful answers to our questions. We wanted to know why the people of Hampton Roads did not have to forfeit their lands but we were about to be forced to leave our lands for the benefit of the Navy. The Navy actually told us that they would condemn lands if it was in the benefit of the Navy and the property owner. They never defined this statement. They never intend to impose this on the people around Oceana and Fentress. If they did, they would be doing it now out to the 75 dB DNL contour line. They still will not impose this on Virginians. So what does “for the benefit of the Navy and property owner” actually mean in Virginia and North Carolina?

The U.S. Navy at long last has run up the white flag regarding a practice landing field for aircraft carrier pilots near a sensitive wildlife refuge full of large birds. It took five years for opposition to the poorly conceived plan finally to prevail. Yet the decision was the right one, and Navy brass deserve credit for a strategic retreat.

This is not a surrender if they are doing a strategic retreat. They are coming back. They are going to take the lessons learned from the previous 5 years and apply them to this next attempt at convincing some community to allow them to place an OLF in their region. The Navy is looking for allies and you may be inadvertently offering yourself as one. They have already shot the first rounds in the next battle by shifting targets to Camden and Currituck Counties. They are already changing the requirements to include the planes of NAS Norfolk as well as NAS Oceana. This will now bring in the C-2, E-2 as well as all the fighter aircraft. They will have a lot of planes with a lot of requirements to confuse the issue. They will try to show where the training squadrons, fleet squadrons and all the variants cannot be deconflicted without a second OLF. The only problem is the Navy already evaluated the ability of Oceana and NALF Fentress to perform this mission with the 2005 BRAC. A second OLF was not required under that study. In fact, that study recognized that there was additional capacity that could be utilized. A second OLF was not identified as required to make Oceana a viable master jet base. The decision to continue pursuing an OLF without first correcting the viability concerns (encroachment) at the East Coast Master Jet Base is not the “right one”. The Navy brass does not deserve any credit for shifting their search to 5 new communities for a project that they cannot prove is required and not be caught lying to the people of NE North Carolina for the last 5 years. All the Navy is doing is placing 5 new communities under the hell that the 5 old sites have gone through for the last 8+ years. Only there sentence in hell will be reduced because the Navy desires to “streamline” this process (even though it will be starting fresh).

Opponents of the outlying landing field, or OLF, ranged from farmers around the site in Washington and Beaufort counties, to environmentalists concerned about harm to birds from nearby Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, to most of North Carolina's top state and national politicians. There were worries about bird-aircraft collisions that could be fatal to pilots. The combination of environmental and safety issues, along with impacts on the area's agricultural traditions, outweighed the Navy's strange insistence that this was the best available site.

There were 5 identified counties plus additional counties opposing this OLF and not just because of Pocosin. There was a 16 County Coalition opposing this OLF in the region. Regardless of what site was selected, as a region, we were unified. A review of the county commissioners resolutions indicated that they opposed this OLF for their county and the region. That local support for it was not in the county. Only because the Navy zeroed in on Washington/Beaufort County was the Pocosin refuge so prominent in the discussion. Each site was opposed to by our representatives for unique reasons. But each was opposed because the local people did not wish it.

The Navy also now has dropped four other prospective North Carolina sites that had been on its final list. But it has added five new sites for consideration, clustered in northeastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia. Those sites must be put through rigorous regulatory paces to see if any are suitable.

Camden and Gates County should not have to be put through any rigorous regulatory paces to see if they are suitable. The County Commissioners from both Counties have stated that there is not local support for this project. These counties, by listening to the people, have determined that they do not wish to have this facility. Governor Easley, Representative Butterfield, Senator Dole and Burr, State Senators Basnight and Jones have all stated that the local communities must be in support of this OLF before moving forward. With this in mind, no matter what the Navy might determine through any kind of study, these two sites have already removed one of the highest criteria items; Local support. The Navy is wasting a lot of people’s time including their own by pursuing these two counties especially if they do not wish it.

The Navy seeks to replace its current OLF in fast-growing Chesapeake, Va. Super Hornet jets from Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach and carriers in the Atlantic fleet would use the new practice strip. Two Hornet squadrons would be based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina, the Navy says, but it now says those jets won't need to use the proposed OLF -- a change in plans.

Where did you get the information that the Navy seeks to replace Fentress? The previous study stated that Fentress would continue to operate as an OLF. The Navy is wanting a second OLF to augment Fentress, not replace it. Please read the Navy’s comments regarding the public’s concerns about the continued utilization of Fentress in the old EIS. If the Navy is indeed desiring to replace Fentress, then the Navy has been lying to the people of North Carolina since the publishing of the FEIS in July 2003. It is inappropriate for the Navy to change plans like this. What has changed? Before moving forward with this, I would hope that the N&O would get the ole journalistic juices flowing and inquire about this new plan. Will this plan actually prove a need for a second OLF or is this a white washing attempt by the Navy?

The new sites have the obvious advantage of not being near a refuge used by thousands of waterfowl as a migration stopover. It's also true that military pilots need somewhere with dark nighttime conditions to practice carrier landings. And North Carolina wants to maintain its traditional support of the military, an important economic factor in the state as well as furthering the national defense.

Because the Navy has stated that they will continue to utilize Fentress and Oceana for fleet carrier landing practices or touch-and-goes and many of these will be done in an environment that will have a huge light pollution concern, it begs to question the validity of this darkness criteria. From ¾ mile to touch down, the pilot would need darkness. Over Oceana and Fentress, the Navy has control over that area regarding lights. They can make it as dark or light as they desire. If they wish to press the argument that darkness is paramount, then the Navy needs to condemn all the properties within the 75 dB DNL contour line (as they stated they would do to North Carolinians in the SEIS). National defense is not enhanced when the military is allowed to condemn lands for a project that is not needed nor is it constitutional. The Constitution empowers Congress to maintain a Navy and to erect needful buildings. This OLF does not fall into the category of need, but of want as defined for the last 5 years. The Navy has to go to Congress for approval of this process. Our representatives should do a preemptive strike and just tell the Navy to first ask the community if they would allow this facility to be placed in their county. If the county says no thank you, then off to the next site. Would make this process extremely quick at least for North Carolina sites.

For those reasons the Navy is owed an open mind. Even if it was reluctant to yield on the Washington County site, the service has acted in good faith to find alternatives. The five new locations ought to be judged on an orderly and sensible basis, certainly with the environment and a community's culture and economy taken into account. That said, hard questions should be asked as to whether the Navy might be able to get along without a new OLF after all. Might conditions have changed since the need first was projected?

The Navy has not acted in good faith when searching for alternatives. The Navy did not give the new sites the courtesy of forewarning that they were being reviewed as a potential OLF site. While Governor Easley via DENR (?) might have requested the Navy not discuss with these communities, it was the responsibility of the Navy to talk to these communities. This indicates that the Navy is still approaching this OLF process utilizing the easy method vice doing what is proper. If the Navy will not open a dialog with the community on potential site selection what makes you think a valid review of the facts under the NEPA process will occur? Based on the studies generated so far for this project, it will be extremely difficult to trust the current authors of this upcoming NEPA process. The fact that the Navy is scrapping the original plan indicates that they are going to “fudge” the requirements in order to validate a requirement.

Political arm-twisting or gamesmanship between North Carolina and Virginia leaders shouldn't play a part in the decision. If an OLF must be built, the goal should be to choose the site that causes the fewest adverse impacts of all kinds, regardless of where it happens to be.

First and foremost, the Navy must prove that this OLF is indeed required. With the poor quality of workmanship already presented to North Carolinians, the confidence of their information demonstrating proof may never be accepted. It certainly will always be questioned.

The only way they can prove an OLF is needed is if they first prove that Fentress cannot do the job even if the encroachment concerns were removed. In order to do that, they would also have to show were the 2005 BRAC erred. However, the 2005 BRAC utilized Navy evaluations on the ability of Fentress and Oceana to perform the mission. Did the Navy lie to 2005 BRAC and subsequently Congress and the Commander in Chief or is it true that if the encroachment is removed, Oceana can continue to function as the East Coast master jet base with just one OLF?

For 5 years the Navy has stated that Washington County was the preferred site; that a thorough siting study was conducted to find the best possible site; that an OLF is not required if most or all of the squadrons are home based at Oceana but a second OLF would be reviewed to provide Hampton Roads with some noise mitigation and provide the Navy with some operational flexibility. Now the Navy is going to say that potentially Gates or Camden County is the best choice (20% chance of this being said toward those two sites) when in actuality, they would be the 6th best site, or 7th if you include the NO OLF option.

The Navy will not do what is required to make Oceana a viable master jet base, remove the encroachment out to the 75 dB DNL contour line as they stated was required for this OLF.

A review of the Navy’s directives on airfield management shows that the local governments have a responsibility to maintain the viability of the mission at this airfield by controlling the off-base encroachment. This responsibility was not performed at Oceana as evident by the 2005 BRAC decision and subsequent findings of DOD IG. Virginia Beach has stated that they would not do what was required to support Oceana, curb and roll back encroachment. It is now up to the Navy to make Oceana viable. Building a second OLF will not accomplish that. Most planes that will utilize this second OLF will take off and land at Oceana and must work with this encroachment problem. Every carrier training flight conducted at Oceana and Fentress will not be “as done at the carrier” due to encroachment causing the flight profile to be altered.

Admiral Nathman stated that “the fidelity at Oceana and Fentress is terrible, this is not a place to train young pilots”. The Navy is doing nothing on the scale envisioned for this second OLF around Oceana. It seems like the Navy first should take care of Oceana before destroying a community in North Carolina.

News and Observer, please accept the statements from the local communities and from our representatives. An OLF is not desired in North Carolina. The Navy told us that an OLF is not required for the decision they selected under the old study. The Navy cannot just void out all the information they have presented to us and call for a mulligan. If the information presented before is not valid, then why was 24,000 to 30,000 acres of land authorized to be condemned in Washington County? This OLF is a want, not a need. The Navy is trying to convince some county to allow them to place an OLF in their county and you are helping the Navy with much of this editorial.

The Navy should be required to answer all the questions received from the public comments period as many of those comments will be applicable to any North Carolina site under review. The Navy should be required to explain what is the new plan and new requirements before moving forward with any study.

The people of North Carolina have the right to know what the new playing field is. As evident by the September 18, 2007 meeting were the Navy had all the answers and my representative did not even know what were the sites about to be disclosed, the people of North Carolina do not need to be put in that position again.

The Navy should be transparent, honest, approachable, accessible and supportive to the questions and needs of North Carolinians regarding this OLF process.

Answering all the old questions and explaining to us the new requirements before they come to our community would go a long way to demonstrating that. Right now, I feel like the Navy is on a steam roller and we are about to get run over again.

Parmea...this is not too long

I wouldn't dream of deleting it. It really deserves to be a blog post all its own. Rant on.



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