Steve Klafka: Why support County Board letter opposing F-35s at Truax

On behalf of Dane County residents, please co-sign Supervisor Paul Rusk’s letter addressed to the Matthew Donovan, Acting Secretary of the Air Force, opposing the beddown of F-35A fighter jets at Truax Field in Madison.

Here are my reasons why you should support his letter:

Worse Location – I am a long-time resident, professional environmental engineer for 40 years and business owner for 30 years. Having read the draft Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the Air Force, it is clear that Madison is the worst site for these new jets. It will have the greatest environmental impacts among the five sites being evaluated. For example, while Madison will have nearly 3,000 people exposed to noise above the 65 dB DNL noise level, the proposed site in Florida will have no people exposed to this noise level. Unlike the other four sites, there are nearly 60,000 people living within 3 miles of Truax Field. Having lived on the airport flight path for 25 years, I know from first-hand experience that the noise standards used to evaluate the proposed jets are inadequate.

Environmental Racism – The EIS concludes that Truax Field and the county airport are surrounded by poverty and families of color who will receive the greatest impacts. It was only last year that Madison created an Economic Opportunity Zone due to this poverty. The 64 jobs created by these new jets will not be filled by local residents and poverty surrounding Truax Field will worsen.

Children – The EIS concludes that children will be especially hurt if the jets are stationed here. That is an understatement. The EIS relies on a 65-decibel noise standard to assess noise impacts. This standard was first adopted by the FAA in 1964. It is over 50 years old and doesn’t reflect modern studies on the effects of noise on children. The World Health Organization reports that: 1) 50 % of children exposed to 65 decibels will develop noise induced cognitive impairment, 2) over 20 studies have shown negative effects of noise on reading and memory in children, and 3) noise exposure during critical periods of learning at school could potentially impair development and have a lifelong effect on educational attainment. The Madison school board wants to close the achievement gap between white and minority students. This project will only expand that gap. We should not support a project where children are the primary target.

Mitigation Cost – While in modern times, we expect that the polluter pays, the Air Force and Air National Guard will provide no funds for noise abatement. They say we’ll need to rely on the county airport to provide noise mitigation. But the county airport has shown it is no friend to Madison residents. While it has unlimited funds for expansion and improvements, the airport has provided no noise mitigation to city residents, including the 551 people the EIS shows are currently living within the 65-decibel noise level. The Minneapolis Airport provides up to $20,000 per home for noise mitigation and the Louisville Airport has relocated over 2,000 families. Who will pay to purchase the 1,318 homes impacted by these new jets, or do we plan to expand poverty and the Economic Opportunity Zone?

Truax Doesn’t Need these Jets – The Air National Guard has made it clear that if Truax Field is not selected for the F-35A fighter jets, the base is in no danger of closing. The base has a strategic location and there are many options which do not require these specific jets.

Support a Healthy and Sustainable Dane County – My neighbors and other Dane County residents are actively working to improve our quality of life. Madison and Dane County currently lead Wisconsin in population growth. Rather than encouraging people to live where they work and play, the proposed fighter jets will make Madison a less desirable place. These fighter jets will promote sprawl, unsustainable lifestyles and global warming. 

Please send a clear message to the Air Force that you oppose this project. Please co-sign Supervisor’s Rusk’s letter.

Steven Klafka