Open letter on Valley Bio-Energy, LLC 33-MW Biomass Energy Project

Open letter on Valley Bio-Energy, LLC 33-MW Biomass Energy Project which is in close proximity to Modesto Airport.

August 24, 2010

Transmittal by Electronic and U.S. Mail

Modesto Irrigation District

Board of Directors

1231 Eleventh Street

P.O. Box 4060

Modesto, CA 95352

David Olivares

Modesto Irrigation District

Electric RP&D Engineer

P.O. Box 4060

Modesto, CA 95352

Joshua Mann, Associate Planner
Stanislaus County
Department of Planning and Community Development
1010 10th Street, Suite 3400
Modesto, CA 95354

Jerome J. Thiele

Airport Manager

Modesto City – County Airport

617 Airport Way

Modesto, CA 95354-3916

Gary Cathy, Chief

Department of Transportation

Division of Aeronautics, MD #40

P.O. Box 942874

Sacramento, CA 94274-0001

Re: Valley Bio-Energy, LLC 33-MW Biomass Energy Project

MID to Vote on Project Tuesday Aug 31, 2010 at 9:00am


The California Pilots Association’s (CALPILOTS) mission is to promote and preserve the state’s airports. As a statewide organization, we work to maintain the State’s airports in the best possible condition.

On June 8, 2010 the Modesto Irrigation District (MKD) issued a Notice of Intent to Adopt a Mitigated Negative Declaration (NOI) for the above referenced project. The hearing before the MID Board of Directors to consider the proposal to adopt the Mitigated Negative Declaration will be held on August 31, 2010 at 9:00 am at the MID’s Board Room, located at 1231 Eleventh Street, Modesto, California. .

The California Pilots Association requests you do not accept the Mitigated Negative Declaration Valley Bio-Energy, LLC 33-MW Biomass Energy Project. The Mitigated Negative Declaration has not adequately addressed the impacts of placing this project near the Airport. California Pilots views the Biomass Energy Project as incompatible with airport planning guidelines as well as the Deeds and Restrictions that came with the Government allowance of the City of Modesto to operate and protect the airport from encroachment, It is not advisable to allow thermal power plants to be at a close proximity to the airport.

As stated in the 122 page Draft prepared for the Modesto Irrigation District concerning this project, page 72 states in part: “The proposed project site and facilities would be located in an area that is zoned for industrial use. The project site is located approximately 3,000 feet from the Modesto City-County Airport. The project site is located within the Modesto City-County Airport land use planning area (Stanislaus County ALUC, 2004). There are no other airports, public or private, within 2 miles of the project site.”

The Federal Aviation Administration included in their Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) dated August 26, that the AIM now includes Visible and Invisible Thermal Plumes and how they affect aircraft, pilots and passengers and confirms there is an on-going FAA Plume Study. I have included a copy of this page for your reference.

Also enclosed is a copy of the FAA’s “Safety Risk Analysis of Aircraft Overflight of Industrial Exhaust Plumes”. (Sent as an email attachment only).

Another consideration would be the fact that The California Environmental Quality Act requires the applicant to consider all other processes in the area including the existing power plants. This would include the Gallo Glass Company near the Modesto City-County Airport. The Gallo Glass Company is less than a mile from runway 29L/10R with stacks powered by an oxygen enriched combustion system.

Also, please refer to pages 4 and 6 of the Stanislaus County Airport Land Use Commission Plan which outlines the safety areas and restrictions to be considered when developing near the Modesto City-County Airport. Click and copy:

The Modesto City-County Airport is a vital link in the National Transportation System. It is therefore eligible for Grants from the Federal Aviation Administration. When the City of Modesto last accepted a FAA Grant, the City signed Grant Assurances as part of the contract with the FAA.

The City thereby agreed to an obligation to keep Modesto City-County Airport free of hazards, and also to maintain compatible land use zoning. These are Grant Assurances numbers 20 and 21. Click and copy:

20. Hazard Removal and Mitigation. It (the City-County, acting as the sponsor) will take appropriate action to assure that such terminal airspace as is required to protect instrument and visual operations to the airport (including established minimum flight altitudes) will be adequately cleared and protected by removing, lowering, relocating, marking, or lighting or otherwise mitigating existing airport hazards and by preventing the establishment or creation of future airport hazards.

21. Compatible Land Use. It (the City-County, acting as the sponsor) will take appropriate action, to the extent reasonable, including the adoption of zoning laws, to restrict the use of land adjacent to or in the immediate vicinity of the airport to activities and purposes compatible with normal airport operations, including landing and takeoff of aircraft. In addition, if the project is for noise compatibility program implementation, it will not cause or permit any change in land use, within its jurisdiction, that will reduce its compatibility with respect to the airport, of the noise compatibility program measures upon which federal funds have been expended.

Additionally, as we have seen above in the FAA Grant Assurances, it is incumbent upon the City of Modesto or the County of Stanislaus to prevent the development of a project which will affect pilots flying in the vicinity of the Modesto City-County Airport.

It is also the duty of the City and County to provide for the health and safety of the residents as well as the pilots.

Please do not allow this impingement on the Modesto City-County Airport.

We are requesting a hearing before the Stanislaus County Airport Land Use Committee to addresses all concerns.


Charlene L. Fulton

California Pilots Association

Region 3 Director at Large


cc: California Pilots Association.

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