In May 2010, the Vermont Progressive Party adopted a resolution titled "Stop the F-35" that said in part:
"We oppose the installation of F-35 fighter jets at the Vermont Air National Guard base in South Burlington. The health, safety, and quality of life of all Vermonters will be harmed by these fighter jets. Our environment will be degraded. Removal of more rows of affordable houses near the airport will likely be required".
"In town meetings Vermonters voted overwhelmingly that the best way to support our soldiers is to bring each and every one of them home now. These planes are counter to those votes, and they will not benefit Vermont. We say to the Federal Government: cancel the F-35, and send the money to Vermont instead."
In contrast, Vermont Democrats have yet to express doubt about the worth of the F-35. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, recently went to Florida to listen to the F-35 with earmuffs on and concluded it wasn't too loud. During the 2012 election campaign, a questioner asked him about compensating those harmed by the basing if it happens. Shumlin flipped off the voter, saying casually that he "didn't have the coin."
Some 200 houses are already vacant and condemned in South Burlington because they were within the area where jet noise is so loud that the Air Force labels it "unsuitable for residential use." With the arrival of the F-35s, the Air Force estimates that another 1,300 houses or more will be rendered "unsuitable for residential use."
Why Rush to Judgment Amidst Uncertainty?
Rep. Cross has also introduced a non-binding resolution asking the Air Force to take Vermont out of consideration for F-35 basing during this initial round of basing decisions. Vermont is one of six bases currently under consideration, with others located in Idaho, Utah, Florida, and two in South Carolina. According to Vermont Public Radio, Cross's resolution has "more than 30 co-sponsors" in the 150-member Vermont House. He has five as of February 8.
The House voted on a similar non-binding resolution in 2010, expressing support for having the F-35 in Vermont. As Cross points out, this vote was taken before anyone had seen the 2012 environmental impact report that shows how much more impact the plane will have on Vermont compared to the other bases under consideration.