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Proposed bill directs FAA to hold public hearing on Condor flights over western Maine

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that she has successfully included language in the Fiscal Year 2011 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill that directs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to hold a public hearing in Western Maine regarding proposed Air National Guard training flights.

In a letter to the FAA earlier this year, Senator Collins requested that the agency hold a hearing in Maine as part of its consideration of the Massachusetts Air National Guard's proposal to expand and lower the flight level for the Condor 1 and Condor 2 flight training areas over western Maine. To date, the FAA has not made a commitment to schedule a hearing. Language that Senator Collins worked to include in the FY 2011 Transportation funding bill, which was approved today by the Senate Appropriations Committee, directs the FAA to hold such a public hearing. This bill must now be approved by the full Senate.

"I have worked to help ensure that the concerns of residents are considered before policy changes are made with regard to the proposal to expand and lower the flight level for Condor 1 and Condor 2 training areas over Western Maine," said Sen. Collins. "While I understand the need and importance of providing appropriate training capacity for our Air National Guard, we need all possible information about the effects of these proposed changes."

The language that Senator Collins had included in the FY 2011 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill is as follows:

"The Committee is concerned that the Federal Aviation Administration has not made a commitment to hold a public hearing in Maine during its consideration of the Air National Guard's Environmental Impact Statement proposing modifications to the Condor 1 and Condor 2 Military Operating Areas. The Committee understands that the Air National Guard, as the lead agency under the National Environmental Policy Act process, has sought to meet the minimum legal requirements for public participation and comment under the NEPA process, including holding four informational forums and a public hearing at the University of Maine. However, the Committee notes that the authorization of low altitude military training in the proposed airspace would impact areas that significantly contribute to the local economy and areas that are culturally and environmentally sensitive. In particular, the proposed low altitude training airspace covers four ski resorts, potential sites identified for wind energy development, 47,700 acres of a Federally Recognized Indian Tribe reservation, and 144 miles of the Appalachian trail. Furthermore, the Committee notes that the FAA is the only federal agency that can modify special airspace and that the Federal Aviation Administration may adopt the Air National Guard's EIS in whole, or in part, once the Final EIS has been issued. Therefore, the Committee directs the FAA to hold a public hearing with representatives from the relevant federal agencies in western Maine. In addition, the Committee directs the FAA to provide a report to the Senate Appropriations Committee prior to the issuance of a Record of Decision regarding the modification of the Condor 1 and Condor 2 Military Operations Areas that includes a summary of the public hearing and a list of the comments, questions, and responses presented at the hearing."

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  1. It is refreshing to see Senator Collins take an active part in making sure that Mainers' voices are heard on this issue of low level flights. Such leadership is what we need from and expect of those who are representing us.

    I was somewhat disturbed to read that one of the possible objections to lowering the flying levels in Condors One and Two is the advent of industrial wind turbines. I urge Senator Collins to also give heed to the citizens of Maine who are opposing the plan to install 350 miles of industrial wind turbines on Maine's mountain ridges, as well. As disturbing as low level flights might be, the ramifications of mountaintop industrial wind are much, much greater. The environmental impacts are more significant, there are serious health concerns, and the potential for negative economic consequences is huge. Add to those worries is the fact that Maine already exports power. Once more, our quality of life and quality of place are being put in jeopardy to benefit another region. And the stark reality is this: These turbines simply-- and honestly-- do not do what the developers and the administration purport. Science and mathmatics are showing us that they will not reduce carbon emmissions or help combat global warming. They will not reduce Maine's dependence on fossil fuels, as we do not generate more than 1% of our electricity from oil. The power they produce will be intermittent and unreliable, and it will cost rate-payers much more than renewable hydro power woul--which we could purchase from Canada if we had the need. There are simply so many misconceptions which Mainers believe, and I would love to see Senator Collins take a pro-active stance and call for a halt to mountaintop industrial wind until the voting public has access to the FACTS about these projects. There are many, many more ways in which those same government subsidies which are fueling the rush towards industrial wind could be used. With programs for weatherizing Maine's aging housing stock, we could REDUCE our oil consumption, as well as our electricity needs, and put Mainers to work for years instead of a few months. It would be a win/.win situation. Please encourage Senator Collins to get involved in the controversy revolving around this important issue.

  2. Great , good thinking, remove all our dams and buy power from a smarter neighbor that can charge whatever they want when we really ,really, need it..See the squeeze Russia has over Europe on natural gas..............yep, lets just "HOPE" everything will just work out., and Canada will be there for us. Dont give a thought about taking care of our own needs OURSELVES.You will be the first one to freak when the power goes out.......................good plan........