Sunday, October 14, 2012

A matter of facts

Just how important are ‘facts’ to an issue like the proposed Central Texas Airport? Those of us at StopCTA put factual accuracy at the top of the list. While errors occasionally slip through, we do our best to correct them ASAP.

Unfortunately, even the most well-intentioned opposition to the project has occasionally offered questionable information regarding the CTA. Here are a few of the blunders that have been circulated around Bastrop:

1. The CTA permit application to the US Army Corps of Engineers produced more than its share of confusion. An EID (Environmental Impact Document) was submitted to the Corps on behalf of the CTA but more than once and publicly it has been erroneously identified as an EIS (Environmental Impact Statement). An EIS is a much more rigorous evaluation than an EID (or EA Environmental Assessment). The NEPA requirement process is detailed here. StopCTA was also disheartened to see the number of times ‘Corps’ was misspelled as ‘Corp’ in many different circumstances.

2. Then there was a misstep concerning the number of passengers that would be allowable per flight at the airport. An email sent to a political candidate and others stated that aircraft would be limited to “less than 16 seats”. A quick look at page 2 of the 381 Agreement provides the correct information:

“[The airport] . . . at no time will serve any scheduled passenger-carrying operations of an air carrier designed for more than 9 passenger seats or unscheduled passenger-carrying operations of an air carrier operating aircraft designed for 31 or more passenger seats.”

There was more outrage that StopCTA had seen the email than there was about the ‘fact’ that so missed the mark.

3. Before the much-anticipated June 30 deadline when the CTA was required to begin construction, this whopper appeared briefly online:

“With only a couple of months left before they have to break ground and have $150M in the bank . . .

Again the very first page of Resolution approving the 381 Agreement has the correct information:

“WHEREAS, pursuant to the proposed Agreement (i) CTA will not be entitled to receive any grant payments unless and until CTA has completed construction of the first phase of the project which is estimated to cost $150,000,000 . . .”

The deadline for completing Phase I is June 30, 2014 - two years away. There is nothing in the 381 Agreement about the CTA having to have that money in the bank by the June 30, 2012 deadline for the commencement of the construction phase.

4. Finally, just a few days ago this popped up from a well-meaning citizen who discovered this statement posted online:

“Developers in Central Texas are planning to construct a private, general aviation airport and industrial park on the banks of the environmentally sensitive Colorado river at the intersection of FM 969 and FM 1704.”

An email with this correction was sent to the web guy:

“The proposed CTA would not be a PRIVATE general aviation airport. It would be a PRIVATELY-FUNDED general aviation airport. Huge difference.”

Instead of something like, “OMG how did we miss that! It will get fixed right away”, the following defensive posture should give anyone who cares about ‘facts’ pause. The concerned citizen was advised as follows:

“. . . take your own money and time and build something educational for the public on the matter to keep everyone so properly informed since you’re so concerned about the public and their inability to understand what the broad and commonly used phrase “private airport” means. Or you could continue to send me more comments that focus on some completely insignificant minutiae and act like such trivialities are some huge problem . . .”

Minutiae? Trivialities? What can be said but WOW!.

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