Articles filed under Safety from Texas
Lieutenant Colonel Matt Manning says the biggest danger comes within 25 miles because that's when training aircraft are at their lowest altitudes as they're being brought back by air traffic controllers to base.
Legislation to limit tax incentives to build wind power plants near Texas military aviation facilities cleared the Texas House on Monday, despite determined opposition from conservative property-rights advocates and many Democrats in the state’s urban centers.
We must do everything we can to protect our military communities from the next round of base closures. With 15 military installations in Texas, our state has a huge target on its back. If encroaching wind farms make it harder to meet training goals, Texas will have to surrender jobs and missions to other states where wind turbines do not pose a problem. That would be a devastating blow to the cities that have developed around our bases, and I have no plans to surrender such assets.
Mayor Santellana said that he wants to see the military grow and not shrink. He added that anything that affects Sheppard affects the city and they will do whatever they have to, to stop it.
Col. Manning is the latest in a litany of Texas military leaders appearing before the state Legislature asking for help. Capt. Mark McLaughlin, former commanding officer at Naval Air Station Kingsville, started the parade when in 2011 he appeared numerous times before various committees pointing out the concern he had with wind farm developments around his base.
Since the mid-1960s, pilots at Sheppard Air Force Base have made supersonic training flights over the Texas Red River Valley, a region sufficiently remote that mostly cattle ranchers and oil riggers caught sight of the small planes known as "white rockets" as they streaked across the horizon. But North Texas has changed over a half-century. Wichita Falls, where Sheppard remains a leading employer and a major military flight school, today claims nearly 105,000 residents and is the center of Texas' 19th-largest metropolitan area.
AUSTIN - When 39-year-old twin brothers Jimmy and Joe Horn set out to build up to 80 wind turbines near Wichita Falls, the energy developers didn’t envision the blowback they would encounter from a powerful neighbor — the United States Air Force.
It's one of two the Corpus Christi Republican is planning to promote this Congress related to wind farms. The second “has more to do with tax credits,” Farenthold spokeswoman Elizabeth Peace said. That legislation, which is planned to be introduced after next week’s inauguration, will mirror a bill U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced last year and be co-sponsored, Peace added.
The fight to beat back the perceived encroachment of wind energy developments on military airspace in Texas is being re-ignited this legislative session. This month, Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) filed a Senate Bill 277, which attempts to limit tax incentives to wind farms built within 30 miles of military bases.
The study is in and the findings confirm what common sense tells us -- that rows and rows of towering, spinning wind turbines pose a challenge to Navy flight training. And it just so happens that an 86-turbine wind farm is in the early stages of construction on the southern edge of this city that has been home to naval air training since before we entered World War II.
The Military Aviation Safety Act aims to amend the state's tax code, specifically the portion that relates to tax abatements for property in "reinvestment zones" that sometimes encompass school districts and other taxing entities.
Future wind farm projects in Clay County might have to be put on hold after new regulations were recently put in place. Energy producers are now required to notify the Department of Defense and complete a "screening study" before connecting to the Texas power.
Shortly after the firefighters arrived, Roye said, one of the burning blades broke loose and fell to the ground, causing a pendulum motion where the wind turbine began to sway back and forth. A second burning blade then broke loose and fell to the ground.
"No one is talking about banning wind turbines, but we do have to be careful when we talk about their proximity" to bases, said Cornyn, R-Texas. "We're just trying to make sure it's safe for our pilots, both those in the military and those who use civilian aircraft."
Sheppard Air Force Base has asserted that proposed wind developments in nearby Clay County would interfere with its radar operation and flight training missions. If erected, wind turbines in a 25-mile radius of the base could cause Sheppard's mission to be moved to another military installation, a move that likely would be a crippling blow to the Wichita Falls economy.
The increasing case number may be a harbinger of a new trend — in Texas and other states, legislators are moving to create buffer zones between military installations and new energy developments. That means more reviews are being sent to the clearinghouse for rulings.
While at least two Texas legislators are drafting proposals that would limit the construction of wind turbines near military bases, a similar effort is underway in North Carolina.
Alterra and their developer, Horn Wind PM LLC, also are entering into informal talks with the Federal Aviation Administration and a Department of Defense agency overseeing obstructional analyses for the military. No construction plans have been sent by Horn Wind or Alterra to the FAA, which would trigger a formal analysis of potential hazards.
There are still questions about the cumulative impacts of wind farms — the proposed site, combined with existing and future sites — on the radar system, as well as the proximity of the planned wind farm to the airport, said Kim Bridger-Hunt, spokeswoman for the airport. The airport plans to petition the FAA to review its findings, she added.
Firefighters on scene said there wasn’t much they could do except let it burn out.