Dependable Erection

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Small victory in bio-lab fight

Opponents of a possible National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility won a small victory last night when the Durham County commissioners voted 4-1 to oppose locating the facility in the Granville County town of Butner. I say small victory, because these things are rarely decided by the support or opposition of neighboring local governments.

According to a report on WRAL, the Butner site is still the the number one ranked out of the 5 finalist sites, and the apparent willingness of the state of North Carolina to sell the land to the feds for a buck doesn't hurt that.

Several published reports this week suggest that some behind the scenes hardball has boosted the chances of one of the locations, despite the fact that it wasn't originally ranked highly enough to have made the final cut:
The Associated Press will report Monday that DHS last year rated a site under consideration at Flora, Miss., as significantly less suitable for the lab than the four other finalists, and also as less suitable than several sites that were excluded from final consideration.

The inclusion of Flora as a finalist, the A.P. will suggest, may have been in reaction to the clout the Mississippi Congressional delegation holds within the DHS procurement process. A Democrat from that state, Rep Bennie Thompson, is chairman of the department's oversight committee in the House, and Sen. Thad Cochran is the senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, the panel expected to approve money to build the lab.

Durham County joins the Granville County Commission, the Raleigh City Council, and the Butner Town Council in opposing the lab. Some reports do indicate that the potential for organized community opposition cost Madison, Wisconsin a place among the finalists, despite ranking higher than the Mississippi site overall.

I also want to say that i really hope that Commissioner Lewis Cheek isn't as clueless about how things work as he sounds:
While acknowledging that speakers had raised important safety questions that needed to be answered, Cheek said it was too early to form an opinion because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has yet to finalize its environmental impact statement on the project or to decide whether it prefers building the foreign-animal-disease research laboratory in Butner or at one of five competing sites.

Once DHS decides where to build the site, it's going to be a little late for a local government to start opposing it. The draft EIS is also where any opposition needs to happen. Once the draft is finalized, the decision on where to build the facility will be made in less than 30 days.



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