Bombers battled from the ground

  When the U.S. Air Force told residents of northern New Mexico that it was considering their blue skies for a new bombing range for B-52s and B-1s, it galvanized local defenses. "In northern New Mexico, with our high level of poverty, the only assets are beauty and tranquility," says Cliff Bain, who has organized a coalition of Taos residents in opposition. "Bombing six days a week, after 10 p.m. 20 percent of the time, will destroy these assets." The Western Environmental Law Center also opposes the flights, which will be as low as 300 feet from the ground. The center has formed a coalition with some local and tribal governments, and says it will sue the Air Force for its piecemeal approach to expanding air training (HCN, 4/13/98).

The Air Force says budget cuts force it to cut training expenses, and a new range closer to bases in Texas and Louisiana would decrease the cost of transporting bombers. Also, training spaces created in the "50s and "60s are inadequate for modern weapons capabilities, says Lieutenant Keith Shepherd.

Public hearings will be held when the draft environmental impact statement is completed in November. Contact Jim Robertson, RBTI EIS - c/o 7th CES/CEV, 710 3rd Street, Dyess AFB, TX 79607-1670 (915/696-2899), Cliff Bain at P.O. Box 297, Arroyo Hondo, NM 87513 (505/776-8486) or Vicky Minor at the Western Environmental Law Center, P.O. Box 1507, Taos, NM 87571 (505/751-0351).

*Taffeta Elliott

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