VERMONT "LEADERS" TURN DEAF EAR TO F-35 NOISE AND HEALTH
By William Boardman Email address removed
None of the more notable supporters of basing the nuclear-capable F-35 stealth fighter-bomber at Burlington Airport in Vermont, not one, had the courage to tell the Burlington Board of Health that the F-35 would be good for the community's health. The available evidence points strongly to the F-35 being bad for people's health.
The Board of Health hearing on November 27 heard three health experts, two of whom criticized the plane's health impact, while the third called it "a very murky area." Of the dozen members of the audience of about 50 who spoke, all objected to the plane's deleterious effects.
The F-35 has faced local opposition for almost three years, opposition that has grown since the U.S. Air Force released a draft environmental impact statement in the spring of 2012, provoking widespread objections to its assumptions, methodology, and conclusions. To date, the Air Force continues to withhold documents relevant to the criticisms.
The final impact statement is now scheduled for release in mid-January 2013, with the final basing decision expected a month or so later. If the F-35 is based in Burlington, it's not expected to arrive before 2020, about 20 years since the world's most expensive weapons program -- approaching $400 billion -- began. So far it is about a decade behind schedule and 100% over budget.
The F-35 program has been troubled for years, to the point where some in Washington are looking to cut their losses. According to the New York Times of November 28, budget cutters are eyeing this expensive program that is still in the testing phase and still years from full deployment. Two days later the Times reported that the Pantagon had agreed in principle to pay $3.8 billion for 32 F-35s "after a year of tense negotiations over how to lower costs."