Saturday, December 17, 2011

For the birds

A few days ago, this LTE titled ‘Eagles at airport site’ appeared in the Austin American Statesman:

I own property on the south side of the Colorado River across from the site to the proposed Central Texas Airport in Bastrop County. I have observed and photographed both mature and juvenile bald eagles flying and roosting in the area of the planned take-off and landing patterns for the proposed airport. I hope that Bastrop County officials will withdraw their support of this airport for the preservation of these bald eagles and other wildlife that inhabit this area.

Margaret Maguire
San Antonio

Eagles are a noble and beloved bird but it’s going to take more than sentimental, well-intentioned concerns like Ms. Maguire’s to put the brakes on this project. Forget the Feds as Bald Eagles are no longer on the Endangered Species List. And forget County officials as they inked a 381 (Economic Development) Agreement well over a year ago that legally obligates them to support the project.

Those of us who have taken the time to read the 381 Agreement are well aware of the County’s obligations. Here is a pertinent excerpt from Section 10 titled ‘Mutual Assistance: County Cooperation and Assistance’ (discussed in more detail here):

“. . .to cooperate with and assist Company in any Company application to an Infrastructure Agency, for such approvals, consents or permits and any regulatory, financial or other forms of assistance as shall be deemed reasonable, necessary or appropriate for the planning, design, acquisition, development, construction, equipment, operation and financing of the Project.”

Knowledge is power. This site offers a formidable collection of documents that just might hold the key to getting the job done. Start reading folks . . .

Friday, December 9, 2011

Second FOIA denied

A second FOIA requesting additional information regarding Permit Application No. SWF-2010-00506 was submitted to the USACE on October 21. One month later on November 21, that request was “forwarded to the Southwestern Division Office for review and determination of releasability”. On December 5, a determination was finally made to deny release of the document. The denial letter is available here. So much for transparency in government . . .

Update: A letter appealing this decision was posted on December 30. Hopefully, the requested letter will be forthcoming.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Vampire tales

October 31 seems like a fitting time to ponder the future of StopCTA. The recent events have understandably impacted the momentum that we had been gaining over the last year. We were hoping to carry on but in fact circumstances have drained the life-blood out of our efforts and brought things pretty much to a screeching halt.

The county and many of its residents will be occupied with recovery and putting their lives together for months if not years to come. Then there is the approach of the holiday season madness. On top of that there are the usual obstacles always vying for attention - family, work and other ‘important’ pursuits. No one seems to have the time, focus or commitment to carry on. It sucks . . .

It’s anyone’s guess when or if a transfusion will arrive. The good news is that the site with its abundant resources will still be available. Perhaps someone will wander in, get inspired and donate a pint or two to resuscitate our efforts and get things going again.

Until then . . . over and out.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A history lesson

Here’s some interesting Bastrop county history from 1999 when Alcoa appeared on the scene to exercise their mineral rights to stripmine lignite in northern Bastrop county for their smelters in Rockdale. BCEN (Bastrop County Environmental Network) encouraged the Commissioners to stand up to Alcoa by passing a resolution opposing stripmining. There was a precedent from a similar action taken by the Central Texas Lignite Watch maybe a decade earlier. Judge McDonald, who had just taken office for the first time a few months earlier, was promised that if the Commissioners passed it, we would get support from the community. Well, they did and we did!

Three full-page community support statements were published in the summer of 1999 in Bastrop, Smithville and Elgin. More and more businesses and entities signed-on with each one. By the end of the project, all the City Councils, Bastrop and Elgin Chambers, Bastrop EDC etc. had joined the party with over 800 signing on. The ‘ads’ were all paid for by donations from those who participated.

Those were the days . . .

Additional information - The original documents were finally located this afternoon. Here’s an image of the prepared-for-publication layout of the last of the three full page publications.


Click for larger version of the first of the full page publications

Additional reading:

‘Neighbors vs. Neighbors’ by Michael King, Austin Chronicle, July 27, 2001

‘Coal Hard Cash’ by Nate Blakeslee, Austin Chronicle, September 3, 1999

‘Aluminum’s hidden costs’ by Tom Dureka and Ann Mesrobian, Earth Island Journal, Fall 1999

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

October activities

Considering the events of the past week including the losses to individuals as well as the county as a whole, the Airport Action Month as planned for October is going to be postponed. However, informational Meet & Greets may still be held at various locations.

Cedar Creek Meet & Greet

Saturday, October 1

11:00am - 3:00pm
Bastrop Producers Market
977 Highway 71 West

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