Posts Tagged ‘Eielson Air Force Base’

Business Insider 7/3/2014

The US Air Force recently released its final study to add at least two squadrons of F-35As to Eielson Air Force Base (FDNM 2/27/2016). The decision, to base the jets at Eielson, was reached by ignoring its air pollution impact on the severely polluted PM2.5 nonattainment area.

According to the study, increased air operations at Eielson will add 17 tons of PM2.5 per year to the nonattainment area (F-35 Operational Beddown EIS, p 4-38). However, because the increased contribution is less than 100 tons, under EPA rules it is de minimis, and does not trigger a conformity determination or cause a significant impact. 17 tons is a vast underestimate because increased air pollution from housing additional service members and construction workers in the nonattainment area were not considered.

Air Force Times 10/26/2015

Beset by technical problems, the F-35A Lightning II by Lockheed Martin is the most complex and most expensive weapons system in history. The F-35 has over 24 million lines of code, more than any other US or allied jet in history. A single F-35A costs $148 million, making the cost of 48 F-35As (24 per squadron) $7.1 billion.

A pilot’s helmet, with a host of flaws such as jitter and poor night vision, costs $400,000.

Russia Insider 1/30/2016

The cost of the F-35 program is nearly $400 billion for 2,457 planes and, to maintain and operate over its lifetime, will cost nearly $1 trillion. (Current estimates are $1.2 trillion.) Senator John McCain said the F-35 program has been “both a scandal and a tragedy.”

Big money attracts supporters. Overlooking concerns about cost and operational malfunctions, the Alaska Delegation announced the Eielson F-35s will trigger an “economic boom for Interior Alaska” (Press Release 2/26/16).

Even Democratic presidential contender Senator Bernie Sanders who campaigns on voting against the Iraq war, nonetheless supported the F-35 and succeeded in basing 18 F-35 jets at the city airport in Burlington, VT.

The Daily Beast 2/8/2016

Fairbanks has the highest PM2.5 concentrations in the nation, measured by the 24-hour design value from 2012-2014 (PM2.5 Design Values, EPA 8/19/2015, Table 5, 31-Z). By June 2016, EPA will designate the nonattainment area as “serious” which will initiate a requirement for best available control measures” to reduce PM2.5. Adding new sources, no matter how popular, worsens the harm to health.

But, when the Air Force brings in its stable of high-dollar war machines, they’ll operate above and outside “best available” air pollution controls. The Air Force will contribute to their host community’s severe air pollution, requiring more stringent controls on non-exempt emitters. So, there you have it: When it’s about Fairbanks’ air quality, count on the most expensive weapons system in world history being just de minimis.

[Click on image to open article source.]


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The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner stressed the sparse public comment at the Assembly’s Jan. 13  first reading of 2011-03, draft version 1/13/2011. Read the article: “Few show up to address upcoming borough air quality changes” 1/13/2011. The Assembly will consider additional public testimony Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011. As far as we know, Jan. 27 will be the final hearing. It is critical that those in favor of clean air show up and testify!

Whether or not you plan to attend, please email comments to all nine Assembly members at assembly@co.fairbanks.ak.us. Please CC your comments to cleanairfairbanks@gmail.com. Also, you may submit your testimony or written comments as a letter to the editor: http://www.newsminer.com/pages/submit_letters_to_editor.

According to the print edition headline of the Jan. 14, 2011 FDNM, Proposition A: the Home Heating Protection Act is a “referendum.” Seriously? Prop A describes itself as an “Ordinance as Submitted by Citizens (sic) Initiative.” Initiative and referendum are defined as different forms of ballot propositions by the Alaska Constitution.

The Constitution of the State of Alaska Article 11.1 defines both initiatives and referendum: “The people may propose and enact laws by the initiative, and approve or reject acts of the legislature by the referendum.” Thus, an initiative can only enact new law, or in this case Borough code. A referendum can only approve or repeal law. While the FDNM may find these terms interchangeable, our constitution does not.

This distinction is relevant, particularly when some have claimed Prop A requires gutting the current local Air Quality Ordinance 2010-28. As Prop A is an initiative, it has no power to repeal any part of current code. 
The Assembly is bound by state law AS 29.26.190(a) not to amend or negate the “effect” of a citizens’ initiative for two years. However, the Assembly retains sole and unfettered authority to establish any local air quality control program and enforce air pollution control with penalties as they see fit, see Alaska Statutes 29.35.055, FNSB codes 1.02.020 A.7. and 1.02.040 A.3., and the Oct. 2009 voter-approved Prop B which affirmed authority for the local PM 2.5 program.
Even so, Prop A as written applies only to the “use” of home heating devices: “The borough shall not ban, prohibit, or fine residents for the use of home heating devices.” A very different initiative was not considered by voters; let’s call it Prop X: The borough shall not ban, prohibit, or fine residents for the use or misuse of home heating devices.
“Use” in Prop A cannot be misconstrued to mean the same as “misuse” in Prop X. There can be little question the Assembly has clear authority to enforce air pollution control with penalties regarding the “misuse” of heating appliances.
Prop A merely went into local code, effective Oct. 12, 2010, the date the election was certified. As written, Prop A causes far less harm than the gutted Air Quality Ordinance proposed by the Mayor and the Air Pollution Control Commission, 2011-03, draft version 1/13/2011.
What’s really scary is that no one who has supported the gutted ordinance believes it will bring down our PM 2.5 enough to meet attainment. Residents must show up to urge the Assembly to take effective action to improve our air and defend our economy.
Costs of ineffective action include the loss of Federal highway dollars and all those jobs, 2-1 offsets required of all new or modified point source air permits, and jeopardizing Eielson Air Force Base through the BRAC process (fast approaching in 2013). The consequences of gutting current ordinance or failing to strengthen it adequately are grave for public health and the economic future of our community. It is a mistake to assume the State will step in with an unprecedented level of engagement and take care of our nonattainment problem. Even if the State does step up, our air troubles have grown too big for the state to solve without our help.  Bottom line, the proposed ordinance is an unnecessary and harmful abdication of local control.
Clean Air Fairbanks has recommended amendments that pertain to “misuse” of heating appliances. To review these amendments, refer to our earlier post: Assembly Takes up Gutted Air Ordinance Draft.

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