Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Montana doesn't want Ellsworth bombing range

The Air Force’s proposed Powder River Training Complex is a 28,000-square-mile training area — about the size of South Carolina — for B-1B Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress bombers, which fly out of Ellsworth and Minot Air Force bases in South and North Dakota, respectively. Ranchers and private pilots in Montana have been outspoken in opposing the training complex. On Tuesday, Montana Democratic Sens. Jon Tester and John Walsh sent a letter opposing the bomber training area to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. That’s not the kind of air traffic southeast Montana can accommodate, said Roger Meggers, who manages Baker Municipal Airport in Baker. The number of airplanes crossing this section of Big Sky Country has increased significantly with oil-and-gas development in the Bakken and Wyoming. The airport manager said the only community that benefits economically from the bomber flight area is Rapid City, home to Ellsworth. “What’s in it for Montana?” Meggers said. “Nothing. There’s no job creation, no fuel taxes. All it is an attempt to save Ellsworth Air Force Base. They should build it over South Dakota.” [Tom Lutey, Billings Gazette]
Former US Senator Larry Pressler writes in the Rapid City Journal:
Much to my own surprise, I found myself recently signing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court advocating gay marriage. This was a change of position for me, as I had voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 while in the Senate. Supporters of Ellsworth Air Force Base must watch this matter closely to protect and preserve the presence of Ellsworth in South Dakota, which I think is one of our state's most important goals. And that will probably include the acceptance of gay marriage in our state.
One morning I tweeted these:

Thirty minutes later, another incident in the Powder River Training Complex in southeastern Montana grounded operations at Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City, South Dakota.

It's time for endangered sage grouse to get a reprieve from extirpation: close this training range and convert Ellsworth to a fire-fighting tanker base.

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