Monday, March 24, 2014

Tribes, ranchers outraged at Ellsworth bomber range expansion, KXL land grab

Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City has lost at least two aircraft in southeastern Montana, tells people that 'malfunctions' plague the aircraft yet acknowledges that bird strikes are all too common.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is giving the public until April 3 to submit letters of comment on the military’s proposal to expand its Powder River Basin airspace training area over four Great Plains Indian reservations and adjacent ancestral lands. The Northern Cheyenne and Crow tribes, as well as the Cheyenne River and Standing Rock Sioux tribes, have been in negotiations since 2008 with the 28th Bomb Wing on its proposal to extend the geographical area for current B-1 bomber training missions operating out of Ellsworth Air Force Base in western South Dakota and B-52 bombers out of Minot Air Force Base in central North Dakota. The expansion of the current Powder River Training Complex (PRTC) would quadruple its area, making it the equivalent of half the size of the entire state of South Dakota -- and the largest terrestrial training airspace over the continental United States. The FAA comments and the tribes’ government-to-government negotiations with the U.S. Air Force are part of the process to finalize a 2010 draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on a 35,000 square-mile range for large-scale bomber and fighter jet exercises. The Northern Cheyenne Tribe said the EIS should examine how the expanded training activities would affect wildlife, already threatened by habitat encroachment from coal bed methane and other energy development near the reservation. [Talli Nauman, Native Sun News, posted at Indianz]

Ranchers north of Belle Fourche are getting angry because of a proposed expansion of an Air Force training area that would have bombers from Ellsworth Air Force Base flying at low levels over their ranches. Tom Davis says his sheep and cattle may run through fences if they're spooked by the big aircraft flying just a few hundred feet above the terrain. A statement from Ellsworth Air Force Base says the expanded air space is necessary to allow multiple aircraft, or formations of aircraft, to use the individual training areas simultaneously. It also says the close proximity of what is called the Powder River Training area to Ellsworth will decrease costs for taxpayers. [Al Van Zee, KEVN teevee]
In a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force and to the Air Force Chief of Staff, Montana Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh have voiced their opposition to the proposed expansion of the Powder River Training Complex in southeastern Montana. Citing the potential loss of 95 Montana jobs, concerns over the safety of Montana citizens from aircraft based at South Dakota's Ellsworth AFB and outcry from residents in the area, the Senators wrote that they are unwilling to include the Little Bighorn National Battlefield within PRTC.
"I would never wish on anybody the noise impact that comes from a B-1 bomber flying over at mach one," says Marvin Kammerer, whose ranch is adjacent to the base. "Thirty-six people have died in plane crashes on this ranch over the years," he adds. Residents worry that the airspace would become too dangerous for civilian planes, turbulence would disrupt wind farms, flares would start wildfires, chaff would sicken livestock, and sonic booms would interrupt the peace and quiet. [Emilene Ostlind, Who's terrorizing who?, High Country News]
Of course Democratic US Senate candidate Rick Weiland doesn't buy the KXL line of Koch.

The US Environmental Protection Agency is calling the State Department review of the ill-fated Keystone XL pipeline "insufficient" according to Zack Colman reporting in The Hill.

So, why should Canada get the flood water from the pending Souris and Red River events when that water could be used to refine tar sands bitumen on Canadian soil?
On April 22nd, our alliance of pipeline fighters — ranchers, farmers, tribal communities, and their friends — called the Cowboy Indian Alliance will ride into Washington DC for the next, and perhaps final, chapter in the fight against Keystone XL. The Cowboy and Indian Alliance (C.I.A) brings together tribal communities with ranchers and farmers living along the Keystone XL pipeline proposed route. Farmers and ranchers know the risk first-hand. They work the land every day. Tribes know the risk first-hand. They protect the sacred water, and defend sacred sites of their ancestors every day. They have united out of love and respect for the land and water on which we all depend.

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