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Another Voice: Proposed wind farm remains a threat to air base

By John B. Riggi

In the world of business, decisions are made and corporate direction taken. However, to ensure proper accountability for those decisions and directions, one person has the “D.” The D means the decision. The D means responsibility and accountability for that decision.

In the past few weeks, APEX Clean Energy, in an all-out attempt to allay fears over industrial wind turbine encroachment on the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (and risk to jobs at that base), brought Dave Belote to Western New York for private meetings with a number of interested parties. Those interested parties included many political and public groups (town/county government and Save Ontario Shores, to name a few).

Reports from these meetings showed Belote indicating that, in his experience as an Air Force officer and federal employee and through his government acquaintances, the Lighthouse Wind Project would be unlikely to pose a risk to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS). To support his argument, he produced two “informal review” letters from the Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse.

While Belote’s military service to our country is commendable, his current service to Cassidy & Associates (a pro-wind consulting firm) and previous service as a vice president of federal business for APEX Clean Energy are of particular interest. History aside, this gentleman is a pro-wind consultant whose job is to minimize the specter of risk at NFARS.

The reality is as follows: The verdict on the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is fully in the hands of Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission. The decision on whether to close NFARS will be made by and only by BRAC. BRAC has the D. Any reason, such as encroachment on military operations caused by industrial wind turbines, will remain a significant factor in potential closure of NFARS.

So, the questions to Western New Yorkers are clear:

Are we to believe those who are looking to profit from a project that may very well pose an encroachment risk to NFARS?

Are we willing to risk 3,000 well-paying jobs in Western New York based on informal letters of support for this destructive project?

Given BRAC has the D, how much faith are we willing to put into statements that downplay the risk?

It is safe to assume that the very existence of APEX’s Lighthouse Wind Project does not strengthen the case for ongoing operations at NFARS. This fact should be enough for every citizen of Western New York to join the legislatures of Erie, Niagara and Orleans counties as well as the Western New York state legislative delegation to oppose the APEX Lighthouse Wind Project.

John B. Riggi is a councilman in the Town of Yates.