State News

Easley Hopes Congress Pressures Navy to Oppose Landing Site

Posted April 3, 2007 12:47 p.m. EDT
Updated April 3, 2007 6:57 p.m. EDT

— Gov. Mike Easley said he is convinced the United States Navy is "dead wrong" with its choice of a building site for a landing field in Washington and Beaufort counties.

Navy officials said they need a landing strip to train pilots around the clock, and they have determined it to be the best location. However, Easley said he hopes members of Congress will pressure the Navy to reconsider due to complaints from conservationists that the planes would harm a nearby wildlife refuge.

Easley addressed the North Carolina Wildlife Commission on North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus Tuesday morning. Part of his message was to encourage them to keep up the fight against the proposed site.

Thousands and thousands of migratory birds call the refuge in Washington County home several months a year. After the meeting, Easley told reporters he's tried to work with the military on the project for four years, but his frustration was clear.

“When they came out with this plan it was very clear they were trying to run the waterfowl off, starve them out or poison them,” he said. “It's pretty clear they're trying to ruin the refuge, and we're not going to be a part of that. We're going to fight it.”

Easley said he believes Congress should withhold money until a new site is chosen.

“I don't believe the United States Congress is going to sit by and let them destroy an entire Atlantic flying refuge,” he said. “That would be the most irresponsible thing, environmentally, that's been done in the history of this state that I can recall. I don't think it's going to happen.”

Several members of North Carolina's congressional delegation are already aligned with Easley on the issue of the landing field. However, Senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr have yet to take an official position. The governor says he's been talking to senators in states to the north for assistance.