The Downwinders military watchdog group says the Federal Aviation Administration purposely did not notify environmentalists of an FAA hearing held Feb. 24 in Utah about military use of the nation's airspace.
Group spokesman Steve Erickson said: "The FAA surely knows who we are and which environmental organizations in this state are concerned about the impact of military air combat operations on Utah's environment, because we've filed letters and complaints with them."The only conclusion is that the FAA deliberately excluded groups which are knowledgeable about these issues and might be critical of the FAA or the military abuses of our airspace."
FAA regional spokesman Mitch Barker in Seattle said that conclusion is not correct.
"Of course there was no deliberate attempt to keep the environmentalists out. We did do at least the minimum of putting the notice in the Federal Register" on Jan. 31 about the Salt Lake hearing and others in California, Texas and Nevada.
He said he needed to do more checking with the agency's Washington, D.C., office to determine if any further efforts were made to notify interested parties.
Barker said 17 citizens, including some pilots, attended the Salt Lake hearing. But he had no information on what was said or whether any environmentalists attended.
Erickson said the hearing was part of a congressionally mandated national review of the need for and use of military airspace, its impact on civil aviation and on the environment.
The Downwinders spokesman claimed the FAA is "nothing more than a rubber stamp" for military encroachment of airspace.
"The FAA and the Air Force ignored our call for public hearings in Utah in late 1987 on new low-level bomber routes, and now they hold a hearing and tell no one about it," Erickson said.
Although the deadline for public comment on the airspace issue ended March 27, Erickson urged anyone who's been "buzzed, bombed or boomed" by military aircraft to complain to the FAA anyway.
A group called Citizen Alert of Nevada is organizing a national protest call-in on military airspace abuses for April 1-8.
The group is asking people to call their congressional delegation, the FAA, the Pentagon and NATO to voice their feelings.
Erickson said organizations in 13 states, two Indian nations, Canada, West Germany and the Netherlands are taking part.