AC subsidy is no solution to F-35s — Kathleen Henry

Wisconsin State Journal, August 23, 2020
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I was annoyed by Tuesday’s State Journal story “Council member eyes state funds for soundproofing homes.” It was about increased noise from fighter jets at Truax Field in Madison and subsidies for soundproofing and air conditioning so residents can keep their windows closed. The idea that residents should close their windows all summer is so obviously wrong.

Madison has beautiful air. Clean air is good for people. Never breathing fresh air does not make people healthy. The F-35s and their noise should not be near residences. Homes should not have to become coffin-like. It is against public health to impose so much noise on people that they can no longer open their windows. The increased air conditioning that will be used contributes to climate change because utilities haven’t cleaned up their act. This policy will help hasten the destruction of the planet.

The F-35s will hasten the destruction as well because they burn fossil fuel. The F-35s are wrong for Madison. People should not have their hearing damaged because of them — nor should they have to keep their windows closed all year. The F-35s belong nowhere, but a rural area is far better than an urban area.

Kathleen Henry, Madison

Original article:

Madison City Council member eyes state funds for soundproofing near Truax

Chris Rickert | Wisconsin State Journal Aug 17, 2020
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AMadison City Council member is calling on the Wisconsin Legislature to let people living near Truax Field claim refundable tax credits to offset the cost of soundproofing their homes once the Wisconsin Air National Guard brings a squadron of F-35s to the base.

The resolution sponsored by 16th District Ald. Michael Tierney says if the federal government does not provide money for soundproofing, the Legislature should provide tax credits to cover the costs of new doors, windows and insulation to deaden noise, and air-conditioning systems so that residents could keep their windows closed in the summer months.

“The city of Madison does not have financial resources to assist these homeowners,” the resolution notes.

After more than three years of study, the U.S. Air Force in April announced that the Truax-based 115th Fighter Wing was getting 20 of the F-35s to replace the F-16s that have been at the base since 1992. The $90 million planes are expected to arrive in 2023.

The state is facing huge projected budget deficits due to the COVID-19 economic shutdown, and Tierney acknowledged that lawmakers might not want to approve the tax credits in the near term. But federal funding for soundproofing could fall through, he said, or not be enough to cover homeowners’ costs, and with more than two years before the jets arrive, “now is the time to make the ask of the state Legislature.”

“If we don’t ask, we’re not going to get it,” he said.

The Republican-controlled Legislature in October overwhelmingly passed a resolution supporting the F-35s, but Madison residents have been sharply divided over the basing decision, known as a beddown. Many in the business community see the planes and associated construction at the base as a boon to the local economy. Others worry about the noise and other environmental fallout from the jets in the lower-income, more racially diverse neighborhoods around the base.

In early April, the City Council approved a resolution opposing the jets in Madison. Tierney said a majority of his constituents were in support of continuing the mission at Truax, and he voted against the resolution.

An Air Force environmental impact study found that the 115th would conduct 27% more takeoffs and landings with the F-35s, exposing more than 1,000 additional homes to average daily noise of 65 decibels or more — a level deemed “incompatible” with residential use, though not uninhabitable.

The study also found the F-35 would be about 5 decibels louder than the current F-16s on takeoff. The threshold for human perception is generally a change of about 3 decibels, while an increase of 10 decibels is perceived as doubling the noise level.