Burlington F-35 Ballot Item

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PETITION FOR BURLINGTON TOWN MEETING BALLOT ITEM

We, the undersigned voters of the City of Burlington hereby petition our City Council to warn the advisory resolution below for Town Meeting, March 6, 2018.

“Shall we, the voters of the City of Burlington, as part of our strong support for the men and women of the Vermont National guard, and especially their mission to ‘protect the citizens of Vermont,’ advise the City Council to:

1) request the cancellation of the planned basing of the F-35 at Burlington International Airport, and

2) request instead low-noise-level equipment with a proven high safety record appropriate for a densely populated area?”


Supporting Facts: Town Meeting Resolution to Cancel Basing of F-35 at the Airport

1. Noise: A S. Air Force report[i] says that the F-35 is more than four times louder than the F-16.

2. Burlington’s own Board of Health spent several months hearing testimony and reviewing research data regarding health issues caused by fighter jet noise. The Board then adopted a resolution:[ii] “the Burlington Board of Health has concluded that noise has been associated with the following health effects: hearing loss, stress, sleep disturbance, heart attacks, hypertension and stroke, and delayed reading and verbal comprehension.”

3. The same Air Force report says that Burlington Airport noise is now “dominated” by F-16 noise, (and later by F-35 noise), and that commercial jet noise is “negligible” in comparison.

4. The Air Force report says the land area, which includes 2963 homes in Burlington, Winooski, Williston, and Colchester, will be “unsuitable for residential use” because of the F-35 noise.

5. The World Health Organization (WHO) found[iii] that half the children living with aircraft noise at the level in those 2963 homes suffer delayed reading and degraded concentration, memory and attention.

6. The Air Force report and the Winooski grand list show that more than 3/4 of the housing units in Winooski are in the “unsuitable for residential use” noise danger zone of the F-35.

7. The FAA says the only mitigation that works for residences in the “unsuitable for residential use” noise danger zone is to purchase the home, remove the people, and demolish the home.

8. To mitigate the danger from F-16 noise, Burlington so far accepted FAA noise mitigation grants to purchase and demolish 200 affordable South Burlington homes in the F-16 “unsuitable for residential use” noise danger zone at a cost of $57 million, leaving 44 acres of vacant land near the airport entrance.

9. Affordable homes are in short supply in Chittenden County. The loss of decent affordable housing because of unsafe noise level or demolition restricts business development and job growth in the county.

10. Crash rate: The U.S. Air Force report says all new military jets have an especially high rate of crashing. It provides data showing that crash rate will sharply increase when the F-35 comes to replace the F-16 here.

11. Crash consequences:Air Force reports also show that the F-35 has far worse consequences when it crashes near people than the F-16. Whereas the F-16 body is made of aluminum, the body of the F-35 is made of thousands of pounds of combustible military carbon composite materials with a combustible stealth coating. Upon a crash, when the F-35 body and stealth coating burn in the inferno of thousands of gallons of jet fuel during the time before firefighters arrive, a Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division report[iv] states that highly toxic, mutagenic, and carcinogenic chemicals, particles, and fibers are released.

12. A report issued by[v] the Air Force Institute for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health, states that, unlike the F-16, the F-35 should be included in “the high-risk category due to the high percentage or high quantity of composite materials.” Especially high-risk if based in a densely populated area.

13. In view of the catastrophic consequences of an F-35 crash, an Air Force report[vi] suggests “anticipating and preventing” such an event. In plain English: Prevent basing the F-35 near thousands of families.

14. Noise and crash dangers contradict Vermont Air National Guard Mission “to protect the citizens of Vermont.”[vii]

15. Compatible Missions for our Air Guard: The Vermont Air National Guard can shift to equipment that is compatible with its location in a city neighborhood of thousands of affordable workforce homes. Air Force equipment is available that makes no more noise than ordinary commercial jets and that has a safety record equal to or better than the currently based F-16

16. Accountability: The Vermont Constitution (Article 6) requires that government officials be accountable to the people; however, Burlington government officials, who have total control over airport decision-making, are not elected by or accountable to the people whose lives they rule in the F-35 noise and crash danger zones in South Burlington, Winooski, Williston, and Colchester.

17. City of Burlington is Responsible: Under federal law, municipalities have full authority over municipal-owned airports, and Burlington City decisions are not preempted by the federal government or by the Air Force.

18. Regarding Burlington liability for damages, in a concurring opinion regarding F-35 basing,[viii] specially assigned retired Vermont Supreme Court Judge James Morse wrote, “A fair number of courts … have also concluded . . . that federal law does not preempt common-law actions against municipally-owned airports based on excessive noise.” That means Burlington is liable and can be sued by injured people.

19. To protect health and safety–and Burlington taxpayers–Burlington, as airport owner, has authority to tell its airport tenant to operate equipment no louder than commercial jets and with a high safety record.

Burns vast quantity of oil for war while encouraging war for oil

20. The F-35 is a stealth weapon of mass destruction designed for a first strike attack. Its massive consumption of jet fuel contributes to global warming. It cannot protect Vermont from climate-change mega-storms. Nor can it protect Vermont from cyber attack, nuclear missile attack, terrorism, food insecurity, income inequality or pervasive racism. The F-35 program drains $1.4 trillion from health care, education, affordable housing, and infrastructure. It does not take on the billionaire class. Or the fossil fuel industry. It does not drive money out of politics. Or abolish student debt. It feeds the military-industrial complex. It feeds corruption. It encourages war. It emits extreme noise and has high crash risk. The F-35 precludes a government that works for all of us.

Notes and Citations

1. “United States Air Force F-35A Operational Basing Environmental Impact Statement” (EIS), Sep. 2013

2. Resolution adopted by the Burlington Board of Health, January 13, 2013

3. “Burden of Disease from Environmental Noise,” World Health Organization, 2011

4. “Composite Materials in Aircraft Mishaps Involving Fire: A Literature Review,” Mark T. Wright et al, Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, CA 93555-6100

5. “Assessment of Composite Hazards at Crash Sites: Industrial Hygiene Field Guidance For Bioenvironmental Engineers,” Melissa Hinojosa, et al, Air Force Institute for Environment, Safety and Occupational Health Risk Analysis Directorate, Health and Safety Division, 2513 Kennedy Circle, Brooks Air Force Base TX 78235

6. “Mishap Risk Control for Advanced Aerospace/Composite Materials,” 1Lt. John M. Olson, US Air Force, USAF Advanced Composites Program Office, McClellan Air Force Base, CA

7. The Vermont Air National Guard 158th Fighter Wing Mission, document AFD-140812-031.

8. In re Request for Jurisdictional Opinion re: Changes in Physical Structure and Use at Burlington International Airport for F-35A, Vermont Supreme Court, 2015 VT 41.

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