WASHINGTON, D.C. – After a pointed request from the Alaska Congressional Delegation, the United States Air Force (USAF) today announced their decision to extend the public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement Review for the proposed transfer of the F-16 Aggressor Squadron from Eielson Air Force Base to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER.)
Citing concerns about lack of available housing, noise and community frustration about lack of public outreach, the delegation sent a letter to the USAF on July 22, 2013 requesting that public comment period be extended from August 2 to August 30. The extension was granted in a letter (attached) from the USAF acknowledging the importance of ensuring that Alaskans have the opportunity to provide their views.
“I told the United States Air Force over a year ago that they needed to go back to the drawing board on the proposal to transfer the F-16s from Eielson to JBER, and it’s clear they haven’t fully heard from both Fairbanks and Anchorage yet,” said Sen. Murkowski. “Alaskans already knew the damage this move would inflict on our two largest cities and economies, but the Air Force still needs to consider the potential harm and impacts on those Alaskans literally with their boots on the ground in and around the Mountain View community. I appreciate them extending this period so that the neighboring Mountain View Community Council and other interested residents of Anchorage can convey their thoughts.”
“I wasn’t satisfied with the short public comment period right in the middle of Alaska’s brief summer, otherwise known as fishing season,” said Sen. Begich. “The extended public comment period will allow Alaskans more time to respond to the EIS. I know several neighborhood leaders and community councils who want more time to give their comments and they deserve it. The proposed F-16 move threatens Anchorage’s already tight housing and rental market and the noise would be a nuisance to family neighborhoods nearby. I hope this additional time will help the Air Force come to the right conclusion.”
“I wish to thank the Air Force for extending the comment period through the end of August. Since this proposal was announced last year, the Air Force has yet to explain to me how they will address the sparse housing options, limited school availability and outrageous and costly commutes that will come with a transfer of the F-16 squadron from Eielson to JBER,” Rep. Young said. “I call on all Alaskans to take these next few weeks to thoughtfully weigh in and express their opinions on this ill-fated proposal.”
The USAF has promised to send notification about the extension to the communities surrounding Eielson AFB and JBER as quickly as possible. Comments may also be submitted at http://www.keepthef16s.com/comment/.