The main argument in the Panama City Bay County Airport relocation is the possibility of causing irreparable damage to sensitive environmental areas. Currently construction is being held up by a law suit against the FAA regarding their Record of Decision approving the construction of the new airport that was issued in September 2006.
Quote from the Record of Decision:
“In conducting its funding analysis, FAA determined that both physical and environmental restrictions at the existing site make it impractical and extremely costly to update to meet FAA standards.
The existing primary air carrier runway is 6,304 feet long with nonstandard safety areas. Even if FAA were to upgrade the existing site, it would not result in an airfield that fully complied with FAA standards.”
In a press release on November 14th, 2006, Melanie Shepherdson, attorney at the NRDC, is quoted, “The FAA’s decision to build this ‘airport to nowhere’ is illegal. . . The law is clear: The agency has to pick the alternative that is least damaging to the environment. And it failed to do that.”
What alternative is least damaging? Modifying the current site to bring it into compliance with current FAA safety regulations? The environmentalist groups protested that option years ago; this is one of the main reasons the Airport Authority began looking for a new site in the first place. It was determined early on that the damage extending the current runway would cause was far too great to risk.
Another argument the opposition loves is that the airport will spur growth and development in the West Bay area (duh, and that’s a bad thing?), but that it will destroy the natural home for various wildlife, including Florida Black Bears, sea turtles, dolphins, and more. BUT, they fail to acknowledge that most of the shoreline in West Bay will be conservation as part of a 9,000 acre donation dedicated for conservation/mitigation, AND they fail to acknowledge participation of Audubon of Florida, The Florida Wildlife Federation, 1000 Friends of Florida and The Nature Conservancy in the organization of the West Bay Sector Plan. These are all environmentalist groups concerned about the environmental well being of the West Bay Area.
For more arguments and explanations, visit Dr. Ed Wright’s WestBayFlorida Blog. If you scroll down and look for the “Labels”. He has enough information on the relocation to keep you busy reading for weeks.
Thanks, Ed, for all your hard work.