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Chamber wants military to have say in wind farms that are near installations

ALTUS (AP) - Wind farms constructed near military installations can disrupt low-level flying routes used for aircrew training, the Altus Chamber of Commerce says in letters asking Oklahoma lawmakers to give a state military planning commission the ability to approve the location of some turbines.

The chamber sent letters to Senate Pro Tempore Mike Schulz and Rep. Charles Ortega, both from Altus, saying that the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission should have siting approval for wind farms near military installations, The Oklahoman (http://bit.ly/2mXadA6 ) reported.

"We want to provide this kind of protection to our military assets, but we don't want to be seen as working against the wind industry," said chamber President and CEO Brian Bush.

He said officials at Altus Air Force Base and economic developers already have informal discussions with wind representatives about the location of turbines. The chamber's proposal would formalize that under the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission, which includes representatives from every military installation in the state. 

A spokesman for Schulz deferred comment to Altus Air Force Base. Ortega could not be reached for comment by the newspaper.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, has filed legislation that would provide a 30-mile turbine buffer around military airfields nationwide.

The American Wind Energy Association says more than a third of current wind turbines are within 50 miles of a military exclusion zone proposed by other federal legislation.

"These arbitrary buffer zones unnecessarily put at risk tens of billions of dollars of private investment in rural America, restrict the energy development activities of private companies, prohibit private citizens from leas

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