Like Leahy, independent Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic Rep. Peter Welch have stayed almost invisible since expressing early, pro forma support for Air Force plans, even before the Air Force issued its environmental impact statement. In one response to a concerned constituent, Welch took a position of disinterest in the facts
of the matter, but suggested the constituent contact the Air Force directly.
The city council of South Burlington, where the base would be located, has already voted its opposition to the F-35 base, by a 4-1 vote last summer. The council president is retired Air Force Col. Rosanne Greco, who spent years of her professional military life as a Pentagon planner. Her close analysis of some of the flaws in the Air Force environmental impact statement has been challenged by some F-35 supporters, but no one has yet managed to refute it. Winooski's city council has not taken a forthright stand, but with a large portion of its community in the uninhabitable noise zone, it wants more information.
"Save Our Skies" Petitions Air Force, Congress for Facts
Another, recently formed group -- Save Our Skies from the F35s" -- has launched a petition on change.org asking Leahy, Sanders, Welch, and the Air Force to provide the documented basis for rating Burlington as a good site for the F-35. Col. Greco pointed out months ago that the Air Force scoring sheets rated the area as having no houses, even though its own environmental impact statement identified 2,944 houses that would become uninhabitable with the activation of the F-35 base. The petition asks the congressional delegation and the Air Force to base their decision on facts and not hide information, saying in part:
So why has Burlington International Airport been chosen as a preferred site when it is so close to a large city center? We believe it was a simple error. The scoring sheet asked if there were homes in the accident and noise areas, and the answer for Burlington was "no," despite the 2944 homes mentioned in the Air Force's draft Environmental Impact Statement. Ignoring this error, our Congressional delegates are supporting the F-35 beddown in Vermont. Previous FOIA requests by the Burlington Free Press for the public release of the complete scoring data have been denied by the Air Force".
We also request that you postpone the final decision until after we are able to review the score sheets. We have a right to investigate the error that may ruin our communities with slashed housing values, lower tax revenues, abandoned homes, higher crime rates and declining schools.
Vermont Officials Mostly Duck Accountability
Leahy, Sanders, and Welch have not explained why they have so little interest in factual discrepancies that could have such a detrimental impact on so many of their constituents. Beyond reflexive support for the Air Force, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger have been similarly AWOL on the substantive questions raised by basing nuclear-armed offensive weapons in Vermont. With the silence of legislators and other city councils, City council president Col. Greco is the highest ranking elected official to address the issue seriously.