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Letter: We need to fight Mather expansion plans

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Last week Robert Holderness wrote, “Mather Airport is an essential part of the future economic vitality of our region.” But he offered no support for that claim. Here are the facts. The Mather cargo hub concept, hatched in the panic of military base closings in the early 90s, has been a failure from the beginning. More than 60 percent of air freight in Sacramento is handled at Sacramento International where facilities, existing or in the approved master plan, can accommodate our region’s growth for decades. Spending $100 million taxpayer dollars on a Mather expansion makes no sense. The county Airport Department loses about $1 million each year operating Mather. If a surplus ever existed, under federal law, it could only be spent within the Airport System. There is no upside for residents — only for bureaucratic empire builders. Having accepted federal funds, the county must operate Mather with unfettered access by military and civilian aircraft, 24/7, for the next 20 years. Not only can UPS continue their cargo operations there, other carriers can move there as well. Even the lowball estimate in Environmental Impact Report has 6,534 jet freighter operations taking place in the year 2025 — with or without the expansion — and the county’s aviation consultants have said that the expansion could handle almost four times that number. This hardly fits Holderness’ claim of making Mather into a “hobbyist’s airstrip.” Is this “Ranch Cordova’s issue,” as Holderness says? Hardly! Folsom has thrived (as has western El Dorado County) by emphasizing quality of life. The tightly coupled trio of quality of life, health of the environment, and economic well-being, is directly threatened by the noise and pollution from air freighter flights. The City Council wisely recognized this threat and has worked diligently for years to find solutions — only to hit one dead end after another. The defective draft Mather Airport Master Plan and Environmental Impact Report now on the table calls for the strong action the Council (and the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors) has taken. This is our issue! We need to fight this expansion at every turn. Glen Otey, Folsom