Military money bill blocks OLF

Published 5:44 am Thursday, June 7, 2007

By Staff
Bars ‘any activity’ related to building at Site C
News Editor
A U.S. House committee approved a bill Wednesday that would block funding for the Navy’s proposed outlying landing field in Washington and Beaufort counties.
The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill allocates $64.7 billion for military-related building and heath care needs. But it prohibits “any activity related to the construction of an outlying landing field in Washington County, North Carolina.”
North Carolina Congressman G.K. Butterfield, who represents Washington County at the federal level, pushed to add the language to the bill. Fellow Democrat David Price, a congressman from Chapel Hill, also played a key role in the effort.
Price is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, which passed the bill by a voice vote Wednesday afternoon.
A report accompanying the appropriations bill states the committee’s intent “to closely monitor the Navy’s progress in considering alternative (OLF) locations in North Carolina.” That report requires the Navy to update Congress on its efforts to find another site by July 31.
The money-blocking language in the military-appropriations bill is the second part of a “complementary effort” to sever the Navy’s authorization and its bankroll when it comes to Navy-termed Site C, according to Butterfield’s spokesman Ken Willis. Language currently in the National Defense Authorization Bill of 2007 legally bans the Navy from putting a landing field on 34,000 acres near the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.
Site C is favored by the Navy in part because it is about halfway between Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock. It would be used to train pilots from both bases, according to Navy spokesmen.
But Butterfield said the latest legislation is “another clear, strong and simple message” that Site C is neither suitable for the Navy’s plans nor safe for military pilots.
The latest bill will be considered by the House within two weeks.