Save Ontario Shores (SOS), the grassroots community effort opposing the proposed installation of more than 70, 620-foot tall industrial wind turbines in the towns of Somerset and Yates, held a news conference on Monday (Oct. 31) outside the gates of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS), to make the community aware of a disturbing situation that may well jeopardize future missions at NFARS, as well as the future of the air base.
According to Pam Atwater, SOS president, Cassidy and Associates, a Washington-based lobbying firm, has been working behind the scenes for Apex Clean Energy to promote the Lighthouse Wind industrial wind turbine project.
“They are well-connected inside the Beltway, and they have been relentless in their efforts to ignore the majority of residents in the towns of Somerset and Yates who have repeatedly gone on record in opposition to the installation of these mammoth wind turbines in our towns,” she said.
“We have now learned that Cassidy and Associates has been hired by the state of New Jersey to help protect several military installations in New Jersey that make up Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, as well as the Earle Naval Weapons Station, the 177th Fight Winger and a Coast Guard Training Center.”
Apex has hired Cassidy and Associates to lobby for its industrial wind turbine project in Western New York, which could put NFARS at risk the next time Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission decides which military installations will close.
“We’ve been fortunate here, twice,” Atwater said. “The BRAC Commission has voted to save NFARS, but what happens in the next round?”
“We’re calling this CASSIDY-GATE,” Atwater said. “The same firm that is promoting wind turbines here, turbines that could jeopardize the future of NFARS, has been hired by a neighboring state to land a re-fueling mission while keeping an eye on the chief competitors and threats to New Jersey’s military installations.
“CASSIDY-GATE represents a clear conflict of interest.”
Joining SOS at the news conference was Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27), who reiterated his staunch opposition to the installation of the industrial wind turbines. “We don’t know what might happen to the base in the future, so why take any chance with anything that could jeopardize our air base?”
Noting that wind power is not competitive, Collins said industrial wind projects like the one being proposed in Somerset and Yates are subsidized by federal taxpayers, resulting in more deficits and debt. “They are not economically feasible,” he said.
State Senator Rob Ortt (62nd District) also spoke at the event. “The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is an invaluable asset to Niagara County and our region, and it’s important the proposed project does not hinder its capabilities. The future of the air base is incumbent upon that. Should Apex move forward with construction plans, I will continue to work with Save Ontario Shores, along with state and local leaders, to ensure that the concerns of the community are addressed and that protections are implemented to help keep the base off the chopping block,” he said.
SOS again called on Apex to respect the wishes of a majority of residents and abandon its ill-conceived project.
“Local vendors who do business on the air base, base employees, veterans, veterans’ groups, military retirees and all Niagara County taxpayers should contact Governor Cuomo and Senator Schumer, telling them that CASSIDY-GATE represents a clear and present danger to the economic future and survival of the Niagara County economy,” Atwater said.
She also called on the governor and the Article 10 Siting Board to, “connect the dots, just as we have, and to recognize the future of Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is at risk. I’m sure the governor does not want NFARS to close on his watch.”