Community should be vigilant in protecting Niagara Falls base, despite Apex claims turbines will have no impact

Posted 3 November 2016 at 10:19 pm


The recent article published in the Hub and titled: “SOS, Collins and Ortt Not Convinced Turbines Won’t Affect Future of Niagara Falls Base” included statements by APEX (Ms. Cat Strumlauf) which were misleading, deceptive and designed to redirect clear and present closure dangers relating to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS).

The pertinent passages from the Hub article and responses are as follows:

1).  “Apex officials said the local community doesn’t need to worry about the turbines having a negative impact on the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.”

  • Response: Clearly, there is a significant need to worry about negative impact on NFARS.  The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission will see any potential encroachment as a negative.  Especially, if they are looking for any reason to close any one of the myriad bases trying to remain commissioned.  To do anything that would pose a risk to the over 3,000 good paying, local NFARS jobs currently balancing on the BRAC Sword of Damocles, is unconscionable.  APEX is doing Western New York no favors stating that the “local community doesn’t need to worry”.

2).  “We are perplexed about why this topic continues to be raised, especially after Lighthouse Wind has received a letter directly from the DoD Siting Clearinghouse stating the project is ‘unlikely to impact military testing or training operations in the area,’” said Cat Strumlauf, a public affairs associate for Apex.

  • Response:  BRAC and ONLY BRAC makes the decision.  They do not use DoD Siting Clearinghouse information as the only factor in decision making.  BRAC could use ANY REASON to close NFARS.  The statement by Strumlauf is an outright obfuscation of the truth.

3).  “Niagara County residents can be confident there’s no current or projected mission impact on Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, which is more than 20 miles from the Lighthouse Wind project area. At this point, it is clear that the concerns being raised about potential impact to the base are unfounded and entirely speculative,” Strumlauf said. “We are surprised at the audacity being shown by these few civilian anti-wind activists in questioning the DoD Siting Clearinghouse as well as the expertise and knowledge of local military experts and advisors about their own base. We trust that our professional national security experts are doing their duty and acting in the best interest of our nation and our armed forces.”

  • Response:  The reason APEX continues to denigrate the position of the vast majority of the residents opposed to the Lighthouse Wind Project is because APEX knows this issue is still in question.
  • Response:  The “unfounded and entirely speculative” statements on potential impact to NFARS in the Hub Article belong to Ms. Strumlauf and APEX, not the people of Western New York.
  • Response:  Additionally, we know very well that the statement: “We are surprised at the audacity being shown by these few civilian anti-wind activists in questioning the DoD Siting Clearinghouse”, is misleading, as has been shown over and over again via election results, letters of opposition, five public surveys and more.  The overwhelming majority of the people do not want the Lighthouse Wind Project.  Furthermore, as citizens, we have every right to question the actions of our government, military and any governmental organization tasked with protecting the people.  The “audacity” to question the government is not “surprising”, it is the American Way.
  • Response:  Lastly, use of the phrase “their own base” is a clear indicator of APEX’s unwillingness to admit whose base NFARS is:  It belongs to the citizens of the USA.  It is OUR BASE!!!

In the past few months, APEX Clean Energy, in an all-out attempt to allay clear and present fears over Industrial Wind Turbine encroachment on the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (and risk to jobs at that base), brought an ex-military, pro-wind consultant to Western New York for private meetings with a number of interested parties (Town/County Government and Save Ontario Shores, to name a few).

Reports from these meetings showed the consultant indicating that personal experience in the military, as well as personal government acquaintances led to the conclusion that the Lighthouse Wind Project would be unlikely to pose a risk to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS).

It is extremely interesting that this ex-military consultant is an employee of Cassidy and Associates (a pro-wind consulting firm).  This is the same firm that is trying to save bases closer to the population centers on the Eastern Seaboard in New Jersey (Including the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, as well as the Earle Naval Weapons Station, the 177th Fight Winger and a Coast Guard Training Center).  Interestingly, this ex-military consultant also previously served as Vice President of Federal Business for APEX Clean Energy.  History aside, Cassidy and Associates is a pro-wind consultant whose job is to minimize the specter of risk at NFARS.

Coincident paths to profits make for strange bedfellows indeed.

The reality is as follows:  The verdict on the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is fully in the hands of Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission.  The decision on whether to close NFARS will be made by and only by BRAC.  BRAC has the Decision, the “D”.  Any reason, such as encroachment on military operations caused by industrial wind turbines, will remain a significant factor in potential closure of NFARS.  Even Governor Cuomo has no say in the BRAC decision regarding New York’s NFARS Base.

So, the questions to us Western New Yorkers are clear:

  1. Are we to believe those that are looking to profit from a project that may very well pose an encroachment risk to NFARS?
  2. Are we willing to risk over 3,000 well-paying, local NFARS jobs in Western New York based on informal letters and APEX statements of support for this destructive project? Remember that APEX Clean Energy stands to generate handsome profits from the potential loss of jobs in Western New York.
  3. Given BRAC has the “D”, how much faith are we willing to put into statements which downplay the risk to NFARS?

It is safe to assume that the very existence of APEX’s Lighthouse Wind Project does not strengthen the case for ongoing operations at NFARS.  This fact should be enough for every citizen of Western New York to join US Representative Collins, the Legislatures of Erie, Niagara and Orleans Counties as well as the Western New York State Legislators’ delegation to oppose the APEX Lighthouse Wind Project.

John B. Riggi

Councilman, Town of Yates