Duke group to conduct OLF study

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2008

The local opposition towards a plan by the U.S. Navy to possibly site an Outlying Landing Field (OLF) in Gates County has an ally in the form of one of the nation’s most prestigious universities.

Officials with Citizens Against OLF announced that Duke University’s Environmental Law and Policy Clinic will study the environmental impacts of the Sandbanks OLF Site.

Under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Navy is required to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for this activity.

The Clinic has already submitted a packet of scoping questions and comments to the Navy as they prepare the EIS.

The Environmental Law and Policy Clinic will prepare their own version of an EIS.

“The Sandbanks site sits in a unique community of diverse wildlife habitats and people who live in close connection with the land,” said Ryke Longest, Director for the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic. “Courts have held that the Navy’s prior EIS for the Outlying Landing Field was inadequate.”

The Clinic has been retained to study the impacts and thereby to assist this community organization in defending the area’s diverse habitats.

In October 2007, Citizens Against OLF retained the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) as its legal counsel.

SCSJ (www.southerncoalition.org) also submitted a packet of scoping questions and comments.

Working together, Duke’s Environmental Law and Policy Clinic and SCSJ will bring a wealth of expertise to the important issues presented by the Navy’s proposal.

Anita Earls, SCSJ’s Director explained:

&uot;The work that Duke’s Environmental Law and Policy Clinic will perform is crucial to help us document how an OLF will affect the

residents of Gates County who have been living in harmony with the natural environment through many generations.&uot;

&uot;An independent EIS study by Duke University should provide an unbiased assessment of the environmental concerns and environmental consequences of constructing an OLF in Gates County; which will be very valuable in countering the Navy’s proposed action if they decide to move forward based on their EIS results,” said Henry Jordan, incoming Gates County Commissioner.

“We are thrilled that Duke University’s Environmental Law and Policy Clinic has agreed to help us” said Ken Jernigan, Vice Chairman, Gates County Commissioners.

The Sandbanks Site in Gates County is one of five proposed OLF sites.

There are two in North Carolina and three in Virginia.

A joint venture of Duke Law School and Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic serves nonprofit organizations that are involved in conflicts related to water quality, air quality, natural resources conservation, sustainable development, public-trust resources, and environmental justice.