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1/25/2018 7:38:29 AM
Posted: 7/4/2001 4:51:14 AM EST
LA Times http://www.latimes.com/wires/20010704/tCB00a4135.html Wednesday, July 4, 2001 Texas Plan for Navy Bombing Range Draws Fire Reuters HOUSTON--Texas economic development groups want to make the state's southern coast the next Vieques, Puerto Rico by creating a huge bombing range for the U.S. Navy, but the plan is drawing fire from an unusual combination of environmentalists and Republicans. The proposal would give the Navy 220,000 acres of sparsely populated Texas coastline between Corpus Christi and Brownsville for use as a training ground for amphibious landings and bombing from both sea and air, officials said this week. The range would replace the Navy's installation on the island of Vieques, which President Bush said last week would be abandoned by May 2003 because of years of protest from island residents. The islanders, galvanized two years ago by the death of a private security guard in an errant bombing run, complained that the Navy bombing caused health and environmental damage and stymied economic development. But supporters of the Texas site said that, at nearly 10 times the size of the Navy's Vieques holdings, it would be so big and isolated that no humans would be affected. Any environmental damage was fixable, they said. The training ground, they argued, would bring jobs and money to downtrodden south Texas. Besides, said Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce consultant Gary Bushell, it was best for the country. "We think this training is essential and it will save American lives," he told Reuters this week. While Texas and the Republicans who run the state generally favor business and military interests over environmental concerns, the bombing plan has received a surprisingly negative reception since word of it leaked two weeks ago in Washington. PLAN UNDER ATTACK FROM ENVIRONMENTALISTS Environmental groups quickly attacked the proposal, which would have Navy amphibious vehicles coming ashore from the Gulf of Mexico to rumble across the Padre Island National Seashore into an environmentally delicate bay known as Laguna Madre and inland into what is now scrub-covered, but nearly pristine wildlife habitat. They said jets streaking overhead and the thunder of heavy artillery would shatter the peace of what is one of the last long stretches of undeveloped coastline left in the United States. "Conducting wargames there is just flat out incompatible with sound use and protection of the natural resources," said Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter spokesman Fred Richardson. "You can't make the argument that establishing a bombing area will make it better environmentally." On Monday, the county commissioners of Kenedy County, where most of the bombing range would be located, voted unanimously to oppose the plan. The vote held more weight than most in a county of only 414 people because one of the commissioners is Republican oilman- turned-rancher Tobin Armstrong, whose wife, Anne Armstrong, was co-chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1971 and 1972 and was ambassador to Britain under President Gerald Ford.
Link Posted: 7/4/2001 4:53:01 AM EST
His stance against the bombing range likely influenced others in the GOP because on Tuesday, prominent Republicans state comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander and U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison expressed reservations about the plan. Rylander said in Austin that she would conduct an economic impact study of the proposed range, but doubted the numbers would add up to her supporting it. "While there may be some economic benefits in turning South Texas into a war zone, we must look at the impact on our environment," she said. Hutchison told the Corpus Christi Caller Times she saw little local support for the project: "I've said all along that if local people aren't for it, I wouldn't support it." The growing opposition sent plan supporters running for the exits, including Corpus Christi Mayor Lloyd Neal. "You have to have respect for those most closely affected and, as far as I am concerned, the people of Kenedy County have spoken," he said. The Navy's plans to replace Vieques were still up in the air, said Navy spokeswoman Jacquie Yost. She told Reuters the Texas site was one of "several options" under consideration, but a decision had not been made. Still to come, she said, was a panel to be appointed by U.S. Navy Secretary Gordon England that would study the alternatives and make a recommendation, possibly as early as October. Copyright 2001 Los Angeles Times
Link Posted: 7/4/2001 8:39:50 AM EST
Warlord - Thanks for sharing this piece. A lot of folks in this area who are normally ultra supportive of the strong S.TX military presence, are having second thoughts about this proposal. Frankly, the military provides a substantial boost to our choking local economy - and always has. My personal business is no exception. Padre Island National Seashore & the Laguna Madre however, provide some of the most unique fishing / back country experience in the country. Much as I hate to throw in w/ a bunch of "environmental wackos", I would hate to see these areas damaged. (Not in my backyard - sound familiar?) We have a true dilemma here! GCF
Link Posted: 7/4/2001 11:06:24 AM EST
Originally Posted By GCF: Warlord - Padre Island National Seashore & the Laguna Madre however, provide some of the most unique fishing/back country experience in the country. Much as I hate to throw in w/ a bunch of "environmental wackos", I would hate to see these areas damaged. (Not in my backyard - sound familiar?) We have a true dilemma here! GCF
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I know how you feel. I grew up in Barstow, Calif. in the middle of the Mojave Desert(about 130 miles east of Los Angeles), this is also home of the U.S. Army's Fort Irwin National Training Range. This is the only area in the United States where the Army can safely fire its largest cannon with maximum elevation. There is a lot of unexploded ordinance out there so certain portion is pretty much off-limits to hiking etc. The desert is so beautiful.
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