Navy Delays OLF Environmental Report On Eastern North Carolina And Virginia Sites

The Navy delayed its draft environmental impact study report for an outlying landing field in North Carolina or Virginia.

Opponents claim flawed research about the extent of wetlands at the proposed sites is a concern. They cite letters from the Army Corp of Engineers that reportedly point out the flaws.

At issue is a Clean Water Act permit, which the Navy must have build an OLF.

"The lack of an adequate analysis of wetlands present at the North Carolina sites poses a serious problem under both the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA)," said environmental lawyer Glenn Dunn, a partner with Raleigh-based law firm Poyner Spruill representing Camden County. "If the Navy does not conduct a thorough analysis regarding the presence of wetlands, I don't see how the Corp of Engineers can issue a CWA permit and that would stop an OLF from being built."

The Navy is currently focused on five proposed sites. They include Camden-Currituck counties and Gates County in North Carolina and three additional sites in Virginia. Another list of six possible sites includes several northeastern North Carolina counties, including Bertie County.

Camden and Currituck counties have been fighting the OLF since early 2008. The Navy gave up plans for the OLF in Washington County in recent years in the face of fierce opposition there.

So what does the Navy have to say about the delay of the draft environmental impact statement?

Here's a statement:

"The environmental planning which would lead to a decision to establish an OLF has been a challenging process. Various delays have pushed the OLF timeline to the point that it will now coincide with the commencement of the EIS process for homebasing of the F-35C Navy Joint Strike Fighter (JSF). As NAS Oceana is the East Coast master jet base and the home for the F/A-18 C/D aircraft, the Navy will likely consider whether it should be identified as a potential candidate site for the JSF.

Including JSF data in the OLF EIS will ensure the Navy incorporates all relevant factors in the analysis in a fiscally responsible manner. The National Environmental Policy Act process will inform the Navy and provide the public access to all information necessary to understand and comment upon the potential environmental effects of the proposed action. The Navy has been exploring the development of an OLF since 2000 and will continue to work closely with the Congress, state and local officials, and the public to determine the best possible site. The Navy will continue to fully consider environmental impacts and remain transparent throughout the process."

In response to the latest news, Navy spokesman Ted Brown with the U.S. Fleet Forces Command told WITN, "As stated in last week's announcement about a delay in the release of the Draft EIS, the reason for the delay is the likelihood of including JSF data in the OLF study, if NAS Oceana is considered as a homebase for the Navy JSF. In relation to the issues raised by the Army Corps of Engineers, the Navy has been and will continue to consult with the Army Corps of Engineers throughout the NEPA process. The EIS will contain the necessary information and analysis to support wetlands permitting if required."

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  • by Anonymous on Sep 3, 2009 at 05:12 PM
    Hawkgirl is right. Technology advances require new methods and can help find new solutions. This is an issue of NATIONAL concern. How quickly we forget. Let us not forget the innocent, civilian women and children who were killed in the California F-15 crash. The pilot ejected and survived. There is no way the family of the victims can ever be consoled. Folks on the West Coast were horrified and, no doubt, continue to feel anxiety when they see and hear these jets flying over. In NC the jet crash took the life of the pilot which is no less horrifying but at least he gave his life in service of his country and no civilians were harmed because he was flying over and unpopulated area. The population of both people and wildlife in NE NC is too great to risk. If the Navy must train in the same way, please let them do it in the safest possible way over sparsely populated areas.
  • by hawkgirl Location: NC on Sep 3, 2009 at 07:00 AM
    Technology and equipment has advanced so much in the past 20 years it is no longer feasible to put any of these aircraft around people, wildlife, and protected lands. DOD has to look for other alternatives for training and safety of our military. Gates & Camden are not the only communities opposing the OLF, it is happening all over the country where you have f-18's and now testing of the F-35's. This should be a national problem, not a NIMBY issue. When will the Navy be "transparent" and inform all 5 sites what the process is now? Do they start all over, or do they tack on a supplement? What is the definitive timeline now? How much longer do thousands of people have to live with the threat of losing their homes and lands? Hopefully our officials will ask these questions and get answers. Until then we must all suffer every day of the delay.
  • by Common Sense on Sep 3, 2009 at 06:20 AM
    There certainly does seem to be a connection between the Navy and Xe. Is it a case of hiding in plain sight? How fast was the population around Fentress growing when the Navy ran off the farmers? The aircraft that were flying in those times were not nearly as loud as they are now and people who built or bought homes near Fentress knew about and accepted the noise. How fast is the population of Camden growing now? Ruin wetlands for a window of usage that will last how long before the old encroachment issue will pop up in the new location? And at what cost? What I don't get is that in these hard economic times that the Navy proposes such ill-suited, expensive options.
  • by Fred Location: North Carolina on Sep 2, 2009 at 07:03 PM
    It makes no sense why the Navy does not split the squadrons up between Virginia and North Carolina. Virginia’s population around Oceana cannot support the F-35.
  • by Janet Location: North Carolina on Sep 2, 2009 at 06:21 PM
    If the Navy is focusing on five sites and they have problems with two, why postpone the release of the EIS? Move on with the other sites, unless the other sites were never viable sites. I have looked at all the sites on the Navy’s website and find it interesting the Navy would want to co-exist with Blackwater. Here you have a company who banished their name because of such a tarnish reputation and the Navy is hooking up with them? This is one way to help Blackwater out of their financial troubles; they are not getting many government contracts anymore. Sounds like another bail out. Mr. Truth you may be on to something.
  • by The Truth on Sep 2, 2009 at 04:35 PM
    Well, Look What the Cats Drug in. Did anyone really think that the Navy postponed the environmental impact statement until the spring, as the Navy decides where to station its new fighter plane, the F-35C Joint Strike Fighter? Do you really think that they would want to do the right thing and introduce this issue into an already controversial issue? Why isn’t the Navy moving ahead with one of the other 4 sites? Because, the other sites are nothing more than, “SMOKE and MIRRORS. The Navy is in bed with a shady company (Black Water) attempting to reverse engineer this site, again. Black Water advised their Presidential Airlines employees this week they were moving Presidential Airlines operations back to Florida. No way this operation can coexist with an OLF. And the Navy said that the OLF will bring 62 new jobs. NC is loosing a couple hundred because of this drug deal. BW has been quiet as a church mouse. A little strange,considering BW would lose hundreds of acres to eminent domain.

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