Air Force should support relocation of those exposed to F-35 noise

Capital Times, August 17, 2019

Dear Editor: The Air Force has released its draft environmental impact statement for locating a squadron of F-35A fighter jets at two locations. It evaluated five sites including Truax Field in Madison. It is clear that Madison is the site with the greatest environmental impacts. Locating these new jets in Madison is a sad reflection on our values. The 1,100-page EIS says the new jets will be louder than the current F-16 jets and there will be a 47% increase in military operations.

While the Florida site will have no people living above the 65-decibel noise standard, 2,215 additional people and 1,320 additional acres in Madison will be exposed to noise above this standard. Nearly 300 people will live in an area where housing is incompatible and will need to be moved. Unlike the other sites, the EIS states that Madison will experience “disproportionate impacts to low-income and minority populations as well as children.” The school board’s effort to close the achievement gap will now get harder.

As any resident on the east side of Madison can tell you, the 65-decibel standard used for the EIS is inadequate. It is nearly 50 years old and doesn’t address current knowledge about the health and educational impacts of aircraft noise. Madison has almost 60,000 people living within three miles of Truax Field, more than any of the other sites. Even though the new jets will cost $2 billion, the Air Force won’t fund any noise abatement. Instead, we need to rely on our oblivious County Executive Joe Parisi and his airport to insulate homes or relocate residents. If the Air Force wants to show some compassion, it should update its lease with the airport to mandate relocation of the nearly 3,000 people who will now be exposed to noise above the 65-decibel standard.

Steve Klafka