Published 9:34 pm Saturday, April 21, 2007
North Carolina’s senior senator, Republican Elizabeth Dole, has come out against the Navy’s preferred Site C as the home for an outlying landing field.
As this newspaper has said before about people joining the bandwagon in the fight against the OLF, better late than never. And for a while there, it looked like Dole would never take the position that Site C isn’t the right site for the OLF.
Dole, as many before her have done, is calling on the Navy to change course in regard to a practice field for Navy and Marine pilots.
And if the Navy secretary doesn’t do something to change the Navy’s course soon, it’s likely he will be known as the “Winter of our discontent.”
But Dole plans to do more than just oppose Site C. The state’s senior senator, a member of the Senate’s Armed Services Committee, said she will oppose funding for an outlying land field in Washington and Beaufort counties. As for supporting another potential site for an OLF in North Carolina, Dole said she is not prepared to do that just now.
Dole’s decision provides those who oppose Site C as an OLF location a major victory in its battle against the Navy’s plan to put the OLF at Site C. That’s good on its own. But her decision also provides a moral boost for OLF opponents.
It’s likely that Dole decided to come out against Site C because of the increasing opposition — not just in eastern North Carolina but across the state — to placing an OLF there. After all, many of those who oppose an OLF at Site C are voters. That may explain why other North Carolina politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike, have taken stands on the OLF in recent weeks. And until she came out this week against Site C, Dole had been coming under increasing criticism for not doing what her constituents in eastern North Carolina wanted her to do — voice their concerns about the Navy’s plan to put an OLF in the middle of farmland and near a wildlife refuge.
Richard Burr, a Republican and the state’s junior senator, has come out against Site C. U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, another Republican, has said the Navy hasn’t done a “thorough job” in investigating options for an outlying landing field in North Carolina. He’s called on Winter to reconsider the Site C proposal. U.S. Rep. David Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat, called on Winter to reject Site C as an outlying landing field location. Gov. Mike Easley, a Democrat, is upset with the Navy for what he said is its failure to listen to an increasing number of voices opposed to Site C.
As for the Navy, it’s not too late for it to abandon Site C and settle on another site for its OLF.
It was about time for Dole to oppose Site C. It’s more than about time for the Navy to scuttle Site C.