Alaska Delegation Echoes Call for Public Meetings on Eielson Proposal

Citing the importance of community engagement, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich and Congressman Don Young today wrote to the Air Force’s top brass encouraging them to hold multiple public meetings and hearings in communities that would be impacted by a proposal to relocate F-16s from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks to Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson in Anchorage.

The public meetings and hearings are part of a larger Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and housing-study process the Air Force is conducting to gauge the cost and impacts of moving the F-16s. Until completion of the EIS and a re-evaluation of the initial proposal the relocation is on hold.

The Alaska Congressional delegation writes in the letter to General Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, and Michael Donley, secretary of the Air Force:

“Given the impact the transfer would have on the impacted communities, we agree with Governor Parnell about the importance of robust community engagement and outreach. We therefore urge the Air Force to engage all impacted communities, including Matanuska-Susitna Valley and the city of North Pole, and ensure the public is able to fully participate in the EIS process through multiple public scoping meetings and hearings in each area.

“While we welcomed the decision earlier this year to place a hold on the transfer and the recent Housing Market Analysis has raised questions about the affordability, feasibility and executability of the proposal, we believe the installation is vital to our national security yet remains under-utilized by the Air Force.”

The delegation echoed a letter sent earlier this month by Gov. Sean Parnell. The governor and Begich are in support of the Air Force completing its required EIS, with expectations that it will show the substantial costs and barriers to the proposed move. Both the Alaska Delegation and Gov. Parnell believe ample public comment opportunities are a necessary component of the overall assessment process.

The full text of the letter is attached.