[Hello! pattyp here, posting on behalf of Clint Curtis, Democratic candidate for the FL-24 district. I hope you will read and comment on Clint's statement on the proposed KSC launch pad and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Clint will check in to the Daily Kos version of this diary during the day and respond to your comments. The photos in this diary were taken by me on a kayaking excursion at Merritt Island last summer. It's a beautiful place.]
As many of you know, one of my core issues is the preservation and empowerment of NASA, which I believe is not only healthy for Florida but the nation and the world. NASA represents everything that's great about the US - the spirit of discovery, the can-do, against-all-odds spirit that put us on the moon and beyond. But I am also concerned with protecting and preserving the incredible beauty of the great state of Florida.
I recently attended the NASA public hearings concerning the new Commercial Vertical Launch Complex proposal for Kennedy Space Center (KSC.) First and foremost, I want to point out that NASA is not the enemy here. NASA should be commended for its efforts to gain public input and also for its long record of working with community leaders and environmental interests over the years. That relationship has made Florida’s Space Coast what it is today: a truly beautiful place to live and one that adds greatly to our quality of life.
The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Canaveral National Seashore (Playalinda Beach) not only provide a significant source of revenue to the community with their ability to attract tourists, they are both premier natural preserves with unparalleled natural beauty. The Wildlife Refuge should not be placed in the debatable plan for apportioned commercial development but should remain intact in its natural state for the enjoyment of successive generations.
Many at the public hearings were community leaders, business owners, and environmentalists who voiced opposition to the site #2 proposal and I want to echo that sentiment. Possible alternatives for the site #2 proposal might be converting abandoned Air Force launch sites or the refurbishing of unused launch sites at KSC. It just makes better sense to use existing facilities and infrastructure, such as roads and rail access, as well as the consideration of costs for this proposed project.
The resolution process for this complex issue should be one where all parties - governmental, environmental, and private - are involved in a collaborative effort to find a solution that fits the needs of all. The resolution of this issue is far too important to those involved to be handled in a routine, arbitrary political manner. With the possible loss of nearly 3,000 jobs due to the shuttle conversion, timing of this proposed project and its outcome is extremely important.
I would also like to point out that this is an issue which, I feel, demands the involvement of our elected congressional leaders. I did not see either Congressmen Dave Weldon or Tom Feeney, nor any of their staffers, at this meeting. One should ask them why they were not there. How can this issue not be important enough to merit their time?
Once I am elected to the House of Representatives, I will make issues of this nature a priority to ensure that these decisions are made with the interest of Florida’s Space Coast in mind, not just those in Washington DC.
Clint Curtis for Congress
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FL-24 2008 Race Tracker Wiki