December 19, 2014

FAA delays closure of airport towers

The Federal Aviation Administration says it will wait until June 15th to close eight air traffic control towers in Wisconsin, and 141 others nationwide.

The closures were supposed to begin as early as Sunday because of the federal automatic spending cuts that took effect a month ago, but a major federal lawsuit was filed Thursday and several airports, which expected to lose their control towers, questioned whether the FAA was following its own safety procedures with the shutdowns.

The Wisconsin towers due for closure are at Milwaukee’s Timmerman Field and airports in Janesville, Kenosha, Waukesha, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Oshkosh, and Mosinee. The FAA was also planning to cut off tower service overnight at the state’s largest airport, Mitchell International in Milwaukee.

It was not the only budget-related about face on Friday. The US Department of Agriculture also changed its mind about cutting off monthly reports on the nation’s milk production. That report and nine others were suspended in March due to the federal sequester cuts. Now, the National Ag Statistics Service said it plans to restore the monthly milk figures in a limited form.

The move comes after milk producers and processors complained that the lack of data would make it almost impossible for them to set their prices and make decisions about their operations.

The agency was planning to cut off the milk production reports until the end of the current fiscal year in September. Instead, the agency says it will provide the data using information supplied by government entities, co-ops, and other groups. Officials say they will not survey individual milk producers like normal, because there’s an added expense.