A strong supporter of basing the F-35 fighter jets with the Vermont Air Guard in South Burlington says the Air Force is delaying its environmental impact report to include the latest census data.
The Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation says that information could determine whether more properties around Burlington International Airport would be affected by noise created by the fighter jets.
Frank Cioffi is President of the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, which has aggressively campaigned for bringing the F-35 jets to the area, saying it would be an economic boon.
Cioffi says his organization, along with opponents, requested that the Air Force update its environmental report with 2010 census data – rather than the twelve-year-old figures it had originally used.
"We felt it would increase the accuracy of the report to use the more current data," Cioffi says. "They responded quickly with the appropriate action we suggested."
Opponents who’ve raised questions about potential noise created by the jets hope the new data will provide more precise analysis. And the Vermont Air Guard says the Air Force is committed to producing the most accurate report.
"We view this announcement as positive and in line with the Air Force’s decision process," says Brigadier General Steve Cray.
Last month, the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation chartered a jet for members of the Air Guard, Gov. Peter Shumlin and other supporters to listen to the jet at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.
The goal of the trip was to tone down residents’ growing concerns that the world’s most expensive weapon system is too loud compared to the F-16s, which are scheduled to be phased out at the Air Guard later this decade.
"Volume, seems to me, is about the same," Shumlin said, standing on the tarmac in Florida.
The Air Force says Vermont is the most vocal in opposition, but it also says the Vermont Air Guard remains the preferred location for the jets.
A decision from the Air Force is expected later this year.