Letters to the Editor - Why I Oppose Runway Extension

Providence Journal Bulletin
February 24, 2012 By Leslie Oh

As a Warwick resident, I would like to voice my strong opposition to the extension of a runway at T.F. Green Airport.

Mill Cove Conservancy and the Buckeye Brook Coalition have worked for several years to improve the environmental quality of Buckeye Brook, Mill Cove and Narragansett Bay.

Buckeye Brook, one of the few herring runs in the state, empties into Mill Cove, a tidal estuary on the south side of the Conimicut peninsula in Warwick. The brook flows across the eastern border of the airport. The coalition raised alarm about the de-icing compound (glycol) from the airport that was poisoning the brook.

Coalition founder Steve Insana (RIP) knew. He lived on the shore of the brook, and would call those who lived downstream of him and ask us to go out to sniff for glycol. He loved reporting the airport's response to this concern, to the effect that "Glycol is not poisonous. It simply sucks all of the oxygen out of the water, which in turn kills the fish - not to mention all of the other life in the brook."

My concerns about the environmental impact of the runway expansion are both specific and broad, and they have been raised as a shield against expansion. However, I have darker concerns about the arguments used in favor of the expansion. Generally, that the expansion is necessary and desirable for the economic welfare of the state... end of details. Whatever this economic welfare is, it is as far as I can tell, secret... .It certainly has not been exposed openly in broad daylight.

I wonder. Who is really going to make big bucks, if the runway is extended - the fat cats? The Mafia? Our noble statesmen? The City of Warwick? How exactly is this economic benefit going to trickle down to the rest of us? And why should we, who breathe the airport fumes, we, whose sleep is disturbed by airplane noise overhead, why should we lay down our lives, our health and our pursuit of happiness for those, heretofore unidentified, who will primarily be the ones who gain?

I do not see how in good conscience anyone could decide pro or no without first determining these specifics and then taking a good close look at them, as well as airing them thoroughly in broad daylight. Until then, I suspect that "economic welfare," is a little bit like, "Glycol that is not poisonous." I suspect that the "economic welfare" might be welfare that takes the oxygen out of the atmosphere and suffocates the rest of us.

Leslie Oh