It’s a turn of events that could be the beginning for a good conspiracy theory:
As expected, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced the early April closure of control towers at 149 smaller airports across the U.S., part of the Obama administration’s response to the federal budget cuts mandated under the so-called sequestration program.
Two of the affected towers are in Minnesota: Anoka County-Blaine Airport and St. Cloud Regional Airport. Both are in the congressional district of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who just last week was complaining about President Obama’s high-flying lifestyle in the White House.
Just a coincidence?
The Minnesota Republican said nothing about that, but she did release a statement decrying the sequester and the tower closings, which she said are occurring despite her efforts to work with the FAA:
"I am deeply disappointed with the FAA’s decision to close the air traffic control towers at the Anoka County-Blaine Airport and St. Cloud Regional Airport. Throughout this decision-making process, I have been in touch with FAA and DOT officials urging them to focus first on eliminating waste and trimming non-essential items in the FAA’s budget before they even consider shutting down essential safety operations. Today’s decision shows a troubling lack of priorities—closing control towers should be a last, not a first, resort."
She added: "While I certainly agree we need to balance our budget, it must be done in a responsible way that sets priorities, not in an arbitrary way."
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The smaller area airports are intended to relieve traffic at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, but closing their control towers could force more of it to the larger facility.
The Obama administration is delaying the closing of 149 airport control towers until mid-June in order to deal with legal challenges.