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Another Voice: Senators stood up for wind energy, military

By Leo Goff

The New York Legislature’s 2017 session ended without bringing Senate Bill 1755 to the floor. I’d like to personally thank those legislators who stood in opposition to this bill, which would have banned wind turbines from being located near military bases because of “operational” concerns. From a military perspective the ban was unnecessary, and limiting energy choices would counter efforts by the military to diversify its energy options to improve base resiliency and operational integrity.

The bill would have covered thousands of square miles – more than 50 percent of the state – severely restricting diverse energy production, infringing on the property rights of rural New Yorkers and putting up unnecessary roadblocks to free enterprise – all in a misguided attempt to “protect” the military.

Having served for 30 years in the U.S. Navy, including command of a nuclear submarine, I know that when it comes to military readiness and protecting our national security, we must not compromise.

For the past five years I have worked with some of the highest-ranking military leaders in the world, studying energy issues and educating the public about energy and our national security. Much of this work concerns efforts by the U.S. military to diversify its energy sources and to build a more robust power grid, which is essential to military readiness.

As part of an existing federal approval process for any projects over 200 feet high, the U.S. Department of Defense assesses each project for its impact on operations. The military’s evaluation process uses science-based analysis and identifies the mission impact to prevent adverse impact on military readiness and operations. Make no mistake, our military has a strong desire to work with developers of renewable power, and specifically wind, not inhibit them.

Simply put, approvals are not granted if operations or national security is placed at risk by wind energy projects. This federal process makes State Senate Bill 1755 unnecessary and I am glad that enough senators saw it this way, too.

Also of note, the Department of Defense’s siting clearinghouse, which reviews wind projects for mission and safety compatibility, is managed by the same assistant secretary of defense who manages Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). The Department of Defense review process was designed so that DOD-approved wind farms would not negatively impact a base during BRAC.

We should continue to trust the military to thoroughly review proposed energy projects through its proven DOD siting clearinghouse process. I appreciate that New York lawmakers have agreed. Legislation on this issue simply isn’t needed and the military isn’t asking for it.

Leo Goff retired as a captain after 30 years in the Navy, where he commanded a nuclear submarine. He now leads a group of 15 retired generals and admirals focused on the national security impacts of energy policies and practices.

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