The U.S. Air Force has released a revised draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed siting of the F-35 fighter jet at the Burlington Air National Guard Base. While there are some changes to the document, it doesn’t appear to have diminished the debate over the mission.
The Air Force is seeking to establish bases to house the F- 35A jets. The plan includes basing the personnel needed to operate and maintain the planes, and construction or refurbishing support facilities. The Vermont Air Guard, based at the Burlington International Airport, is one of the preferred sites being considered.
A multi-volume revised Environmental Impact Statement released last Friday updated a draft report from April 2012. The new report updates population densities by using 2010 census data rather than the 2000 data in the original report. The impact of the noise generated by the jets has been a key issue in Burlington. The revised report finds about 2,000 more people would be affected, bringing the total impacted to about 6,600, under one of three scenarios.
Vermont Air National Guard 158th Fighter Wing Environmental Manager Adam Wright notes that the report found the number of people affected by noise is greatest at Burlington compared with other proposed sites.
Supporters and opponents have been studying the 3,000 page report. Outspoken opponent, retired Air Force Colonel Roseanne Greco, is a city councilor in South Burlington.
Green Ribbons for the F-35s creator Nicole Citro notes that people know they are buying homes within the airport’s noise zone, and doubts this revised EIS will fundamentally change the debate.
While noise is a key to the debate in Burlington, the revised EIS report does review numerous environmental factors, according to the National Guard’s Adam Wright .
Public comments will be taken over 45 days thru July 15th. The Air Force is expected to issue a final EIS report in October.