F-35 May Come to
Vermont on Wing and Prayer -- or Mostly Prayer, and Deceit
By William Boardman 6.1.13
F-35 Booster, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT by (actnowus.org)
Air Force Acknowledges F-35 Critics Were Right About Impact
The Air Force has admitted that it's critics in Vermont have been right all along -- that basing the F-35 strike fighter in Burlington, the state's only area with population at urban-concentration levels, will render thousands more homes "unsuitable for residential use" than originally estimate.
The faulty first estimate in the Air Force's environmental impact statement resulted from the Air Force's use of outdated 2000 census data, even though 2010 census data was easily available at the time the statement was prepared.
The 1,100-page environmental impact statement has been challenged on factual grounds since its release in 2012. The Air Force is currently reassessing it, with a full revised edition expected in the fall of 2013. There is now a 30 day public comment period on the revised report.
The revisions made public on May 31 all related to the Air Force's erroneous population figures for the several towns surrounding the Burlington International Airport (which is in South Burlington, but owned by Burlington). Burlington suffers little negative impact from airport while reaping most of the benefits. The Air Force also corrected population data for other F-35 bases under consideration in other states.
F-35 Would Sacrifice Poorer Vermonters to Benefit Wealthy
Most of the people directly harmed by the airport, and the potential F-35 basing, live in South Burlington, where city councilor Rosanne Greco has been an outspoken, analytical critic of the Air Force plans based not only on the human impact, but environmental and economic damage, as well as military waste and futility. Greco is a retired Air Force colonel who served for years as a Pentagon planner.
""Kudos to the Air Force for taking our concerns seriously,'' Greco told the Associated Press, referring to the more accurate data. ""My major concern with this document is that this document will also be ignored by our senior decision makers. They pretty much ignored the last document. They ignored the people. They ignored the facts.''
In this she was referring to Vermont's two Senators, Democrat Patrick Leahy and independent Bernie Sanders, as well as Democrats Cong. Peter Welch, Governor Peter Shumlin, Mayor Miro Weinberger, and others. These officials all have in common a reflexive support for basing the F-35 in Vermont, without displaying even rudimentary understanding of the range of issues raised by basing an advanced war machine in the state.
Media coverage of the F-35 issue has been notoriously soft, with few reporters doing more than superficial reporting, generally biased toward the Air Force and supporters of militarization. WPTZ-TV's short report on May 31, for example, began with a snide anchor woman saying, "F-35 opponents have their say, once again, in Burlington" (emphasis in original).
Senator Leahy Gets to Mock and Demean His Constituents on TV
The short report than went on mention a "citizens hearing" and interview a jet fighter designer who spoke in sharply critical terms of the F-35 at the hearing. But the report gave roughly equal time to Sen. Leahy at some unspecified time when he was mocking his constituents who are F-35 opponents.