YWCA Madison: Letter in Opposition to Siting the F-35s in Madison, Wisconsin

YWCA Madison blog – February 25, 2020


Dear Secretary Barrett, Senator Baldwin, Senator Johnson, and Congressmember Pocan,

We ask you to oppose stationing the F-35s Lightning II to the Wisconsin 115th Fighter Wing at Truax Air National Guard Base in Madison, Wisconsin.

As documented in the Environmental Impact Statement drafted by the United States Air Force, the detrimental noise and environmental impacts of the proposed F-35 fighter jets would disproportionately fall on Black, Brown, and Latinx families, and low-income communities in Madison. “There would be significant disproportionate impacts to low-income and minority populations as well as children. The increase in noise exposure near the airport would disproportionately impact low-income areas and the increase in noise exposure would disproportionately impact a low-income minority population.”  Nearly every area affected by the increased noise and air pollution is in a census tract with higher rates of poverty and people of color than the City of Madison averages.  According to a report by the City of Madison Department of Planning and Community and Economic Development, rents and homes within the areas impacted by the F-35s are “significantly more affordable than the city as a whole. … Rents are generally 10-20% lower than Madison’s median rent”.

The harm caused by the F-35s is significant and documented. Health impacts associated with long-term exposure to the decibel levels of the F-35s include sleep disturbance, decreased school performance, increase stress and anxiety, hearing impairment, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Children, in particular, are most vulnerable to these extremely loud noise levels.  If the F-35s are stationed in Madison, there is expected to be a 135% increase in CO2 emissions.  Long-term exposure to CO2 creates breathing complications and respiratory illness, decreased cognitive decision making and problem-solving, and heart disease.  And the F-35s at Truax Field will add further PFAs and chemicals to Madison’s drinking water, which is already severe, and possibly irreversibly, contaminated by the F-16 fighter jets.

This is unacceptable. The devastating health and economic impacts of the F-35s will fall on low-income communities and communities of color.  Both of these communities already struggle greatly in Madison, and they should not personally bare the detriments of the F-35s.  If these communities are displaced, there is nowhere for them to go in a city already struggling to provide affordable housing.  If these communities stay, they will pay with their health and education. They will also experience strong economic loss from the depreciation of their home values if the F-35s come to Madison. There is no economic benefit great enough to compensate for the harm to thousands of people already left behind in Madison, Wisconsin, and the United States.

Do not base the F-35 Fighter Jets at Truax Field in Madison, Wisconsin. Please contact me if you have any questions or wish to discuss this further.

Thank you,

Vanessa McDowell
CEO, YWCA Madison