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Oklahoma Governor Signs Bill Requiring Marking Of Temporary Towers

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Photo of the tower near Balko, Oklahoma, after it was hit by a crop dusting plane in August 2013. [NTSB] Photo of the tower near Balko, Oklahoma, after it was hit by a crop dusting plane in August 2013. [NTSB]
Photo of the crashed crop dusting airplane. [NTSB] Photo of the crashed crop dusting airplane. [NTSB]

Governor Mary Fallin has signed a bill that will require the marking and registration of temporary meteorological towers in Oklahoma.

The governor signed House Bill 3348 into law on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. The law gives the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission the authority to require marking and registering any tower used for anemometers that is 50 feet or taller.

The new law grants the commission the authority to determine the best method for making anemometer towers more visible. The Federal Aviation Administration already requires towers that are 200 feet or taller to be marked, but there's no federal requirement for towers that are shorter than that.

The towers are also known as Meteorological Evaluation Towers or METs for short. Most of them are used by energy companies to determine the feasibility of building windmill farms.

The governor had vetoed a similar bill -- Senate Bill 1195 -- in April, because it would have enacted criminal penalties for violations.

4/29/2014: Related Story: Governor Fallin Vetoes Bill Requiring Registration Of Temporary Towers

"It's really a simple matter: higher visibility saves lives. This new law will make it easier for all aircraft that fly at lower altitudes to see these wind evaluation towers and their attendant guy wires during daylight hours. The easier they are to see, the faster they can be avoided. We've already lost too many lives from low-level impact with these towers, and this new law will help correct that," said Oklahoma Aeronautics Director Victor Bird, in a news release.

The effort to require marking and registering METs in Oklahoman gathered momentum after the death of a crop dusting pilot last August.

3/24/2014: Related Story: NTSB: Fatal Oklahoma Crop Dusting Crash Illustrates Dangers Of Temporary Towers

Jason Martin, 34, died when his airplane hit a MET on August 5, 2013 in the eastern end of the Oklahoma panhandle.

The crash once again prompted the National Transportation Safety Board to warn several agencies and organizations about the dangers the towers pose to low-flying aircraft, including crop dusters, medical and law enforcement aircraft.

The law goes into effect on November 1, 2014. All towers erected after that date will have to be marked and registered. Towers erected before that date will be exempt for a year.

Read House Bill 3348.

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