50th legislature - STATE OF NEW MEXICO - first session, 2011


Roberto "Bobby" J. Gonzales









     WHEREAS, the proposed area for low-altitude tactical navigation training flights out of Cannon air force base would cover most of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado, including wild mountainous and forested terrain, wildlife refuges, cultural and sacred Native American lands and private farming and ranching regions; and

     WHEREAS, the training program would utilize the proposed area for an average of six hundred eighty-eight flights per year, mostly after dusk, often without lights and communications, at altitudes as low as two hundred feet above the ground; and

     WHEREAS, the training flights would employ the CV-22 Osprey aircraft, for which the United States department of defense and the United States government accountability office have recommended cancellation due to the aircraft's record of crashes and cost overruns; and

     WHEREAS, the economy of northern New Mexico relies on the more than nine million tourists and visitors who annually are attracted by the state's peaceful lifestyle, natural beauty and cultural sensitivity and who provide an economic boost of six billion five hundred million dollars ($6,500,000,000) per year; and

     WHEREAS, the proposed training flights would negatively impact the sacred historic culture and quality of life of the residents of northern New Mexico by introducing noise pollution and emissions pollution, as well as vibration that could harm historic adobe structures, particularly the buildings of New Mexico's Native American pueblos; and

     WHEREAS, the proposed training flight area includes the Pueblo of Taos, which is the only living world heritage site in the United States, as designated by the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization; and

     WHEREAS, noise from the proposed training flights would pose a threat to human emotional health, particularly the emotional health of military veterans and others who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder, autism or mental illness; and

     WHEREAS, persons who have experienced similar nearby low-altitude overflights have reported feeling moderate to severe trauma; and

     WHEREAS, the proposed training flights would pose a danger to domestic aircraft flying out of local airports, introducing the danger of forest and grass fires caused by possible aircraft crashes in traditionally dry areas; and

     WHEREAS, the proposed training flights would require low-altitude midair refueling, which would increase the danger of jet fuel spillage, crashes and fires; and

     WHEREAS, local firefighters, first responders and regional hospitals are not equipped with the gear and training needed to handle military aircraft crash rescues and high-intensity jet fuel fires; and

     WHEREAS, the proposed training flights would increase the emission of greenhouse gases, contributing to environmentally detrimental climate change; and

     WHEREAS, training flight emissions and spillage, along with the possibility of aircraft crashes and jet fuel fires, would release the poisonous perchlorates and heavy metals contained in jet fuel into the environment, damaging watersheds, drinking water sources, wildlife, crops, livestock and public health; and

     WHEREAS, the Code of Federal Regulations prohibits the unauthorized operation of aircraft at altitudes low enough to result in harassment of wildlife, and the low-altitude tactical navigation proposal falls within these prohibited altitude levels; and

     WHEREAS, the proposed training flight area is a flyway for migrating birds, which might pose a danger of crashes due to bird strikes; and

     WHEREAS, the mating and reproductive cycles of wildlife in the numerous wildlife refuges in the proposed training flight area would be negatively impacted by the excessive aircraft noise and vibration; and

     WHEREAS, game animals are a significant hunter and tourist attraction within the proposed training flight area; and

     WHEREAS, the proposed training flights could negatively and illegally impact species protected under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, such as the bald eagle, the whooping crane, the willow flycatcher and the least tern, as well as species of concern, such as the pale Townsend's big-eared bat, the occult little brown bat, the Baird's sparrow, the black tern, the ferruginous hawk, the loggerhead shrike, the northern goshawk, the broad-billed hummingbird, the gray vireo, the peregrine falcon and the swift fox; and

     WHEREAS, no meaningful mitigation measures have been considered or suggested to protect the people, livestock, wildlife and environment of northern New Mexico; and

     WHEREAS, the state would have no binding control over the air force's low-altitude flights or activities; and

     WHEREAS, the proposed training flights have been scrutinized only by a cursory environmental assessment, with little and very brief opportunity for public comment; and

     WHEREAS, a thorough and complete environmental impact statement process, with sufficient time for focused expert and public input and informed public awareness, has yet to be authorized; and

     WHEREAS, more than two thousand citizens from New Mexico and Colorado have registered official dissent to the Cannon air force base flight training area proposal via the environmental assessment process;

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO that it request a thorough and complete environmental impact statement process, instituted according to the federal National Environmental Policy Act standards, to address and mitigate the impact of the proposed low-altitude tactical navigation training flights in northern New Mexico; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that copies of this memorial be transmitted to the wing commander of Cannon air force base, the director of the environmental protection agency and the members of the New Mexico congressional delegation.