The Federal Government Must Mitigate the Impacts of any F-35 Deployment
The Air Force expects the F-35A squadron to arrive at Truax Field in Madison as soon as 2023, and it is crucial that federal lawmakers provide the resources needed to prepare for the significant impacts of their deployment.
There may be federal funding available for the City to begin work to mitigate some of the noise issues that come with the planes. I am urging our congressional delegation to support a funding request. You can read the letter I've sent below.
November 9, 2020
Dear Senator Baldwin, Senator Johnson, and Representative Pocan,
Thank you for your hard work ensuring the continuity of funding for the federal government through December 11, 2020. I understand that the Senate and House Appropriations Committees will examine a number of pressing issues when lawmakers return to Capitol Hill to resume negotiations on a comprehensive Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 government funding agreement. As talks resume, I ask that you prioritize relief for Madison communities that will be impacted by the U.S. Air Force’s (USAF) recent decision to station the next set of F-35A Lightning II aircraft at Truax Field. I am writing to ask for your support for an appropriations request that can help protect the health and wellbeing of communities, like ours, that may be adversely impacted by this basing decision.
USAF recently announced that Truax Field will now serve as one of two Air National Guard locations to receive the next set of F-35A Lightning II aircraft. The squadron will support the 115th Fighter Wing, which provides homeland defense to the Midwest region. Our community members have expressed numerous concerns regarding this development. In particular, they are concerned about threats to groundwater from polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on the Truax campus, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution from the new aircraft, and unease surrounding the safety of the aircraft.
One of the most pressing concerns is the threat of excessive noise pollution to residents in the immediate area of the base and how much this will disrupt their daily lives. Research from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) demonstrates that exposure to excessive noise from aircraft can lead to sleep deprivation, diminished work productivity, detrimental learning outcomes for children, and myriad negative health impacts.
Vulnerable populations often live near airports and already bear the brunt of noise pollution from aviation, and Madison is no exception. An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) conducted by the Air Force in advance of the decision to deploy the F-35A aircraft to our city found that over 1,000 households could be impacted by average daily noise levels of over 65 decibels, with significant disproportionate impacts to low-income populations, minorities, and children. Public and private housing, schools and child care facilities are also located within one mile of Truax Field and may require noise mitigation to counter potential increased noise pollution due to ongoing and future flight operations.
We are grateful that the House of Representatives took an important step to address military aviation noise in a six-bill minibus appropriations package (H.R. 7617) at the end of July. Section 8137 of the FY 2021 Defense appropriations bill included in the minibus provides $50 million in funding for a new grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) to mitigate community impacts stemming from military aviation noise. If enacted, funds would be awarded through September 30, 2022 for the installation of noise mitigating insulation at hospitals, daycare facilities, schools, nursing homes, and residences in the immediate area of a military installation generating excessive aviation noise. I strongly urge Senators to support this provision in bicameral negotiations on FY 2021 appropriations and for continued advocacy of the language in the ouse of Representatives.
The Air Force expects the F-35A squadron to arrive in Madison as soon as 2023, and it is imperative that lawmakers provide the resources needed to allow our community sufficient time to prepare for the significant impacts of their deployment. While the FAA’s Airport Noise Compatibility Planning program (14 CFR Part 150) could provide noise mitigation resources in the long-term, there is no certainty of action, particularly in short term when residents are anticipated to experience much more frequent flights and greater noise exposure. The EIS estimates a 47% increase in military flights upon the initial F-35s arriving, eventually tapering to a new steady state of 27% over current levels. The Part 150 process cannot be started until the 115th reaches steady state, meaning residents must endure significantly louder conditions without any mitigation for years after initial arrival.
Thank you for your consideration of this request. Please feel free to reach out to me or my staff directly with any questions as negotiations on FY 2021 appropriations begin in earnest.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway City of Madison