Stop the F-35 Coalition to pressure Leahy to hold public hearing

Juliet Buck, a leading member of the Stop the F-35 Coalition. Photo by Anne Galloway

BURLINGTON — A group protesting the U.S. Air Force’s proposal to base F-35 fighter jets in South Burlington is pressuring Sen. Patrick Leahy to hear the concerns of residents who live in the flight path of the Burlington International Airport.

The Stop the F-35 Coalition will hold a rally at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at Leahy’s Burlington offices in an attempt to urge the Democratic senator to hold a public hearing on the potential environmental impacts of basing the fighter jets in South Burlington.

Leahy supports the Air Force’s proposal to replace the F-16 fighter plane now used by the Vermont Air Guard with the new generation of F-35 fighter jets.

The Air Force is reviewing the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that it prepared on the potential health effects of the jets. The release of the final EIS is expected next spring. A final decision would be made shortly thereafter.

The rally is the latest in a series of actions opponents of the proposal have staged to keep the issue in the public eye.

The group issued an open letter to the senator listing concerns over the noise levels and environmental impacts on the communities of South Burlington and Winooski that are in the flight path. Members of Stop the F-35 Coalition have complained that Leahy has ignored the concerns of local residents and that the public process has not been democratic.

“We know that you as a U.S senator can stop this basing,” the group wrote.

Richard Joseph, a member of the group, says time is of the essence.

“The purpose of the demonstration … is to demand that the senator very quickly (because the basing decision is imminent) hold and attend a hearing on the environmental impact of the F-35 in Burlington,” Joseph said.

Members of the group are requesting an in-person or phone audience with the senator to discuss their concerns.

Leahy’s office said it has received many letters advocating for and against the F-35 basing, but that ultimately the matter is not — and never has been — under the purview of Congress.

“The decision will be made by the Air Force and not by any member of Congress,” said David Carle, Leahy spokesman.

Carle said there are considerations that do make Burlington an ideal location for the planes, including its proximity to New York City.

“This decision will be crucial to the national air defense system, and the Vermont Guard’s participation on and after 9/11 is evidence of that,” he said.

Meanwhile, the conversation continues locally. On the same day as the rally, Gov. Peter Shumlin, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Winooski Mayor Michael O’Brien announced a plan to travel to Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and hear, firsthand, the noise levels of the F-35 jets.

Andrea Suozzo


  1. Gaelan Brown :

    Has anyone ever outlined a likely scenario in which these nuke-bomber fighter jets would actually be necessary for “defense” of Vermont or the US?

    Who exactly are these F35s going to drop nuclear bombs on, and how exactly would that be in Vermont’s interest? Is this a defensive weapon at all, or an offensive/deterrent? I honestly don’t understand the actual purpose of the F35.

    Can someone please enlighten me as to why Vermont needs billions of dollars worth of these long-range fighter-bombers? How is the F35 program a good use of tax $? Can anyone answer this?

    I think this is a giant waste of $ with the losses in quality of life being socialized onto the residents of Winooski and S. Burlington.

    I don’t disregard the reality that the US needs a strong military for defense purposes, and I don’t disregard the possibility of Russia and/or China militarily attacking the US in the future. But what exactly would the F35 do for us, in terms of defense of VT/US soil, in any possible military scenario?

    Seems to me these offensive weapons would be effective as a deterrent if positioned at bases in Europe/Asia, to keep Russia/China in check, otherwise they seem to be a giant waste of $.

    Do we really need to spend all this $ to empower ourselves to be able to drop nuclear bombs on Canada or Iceland?

    • Jim Busch :

      Gaelan, the F-35 capable of carrying a nuclear device is not a new concept… The current F-16C based at BTV can carry a nuclear bomb, the F-4 Phantom stationed at BTV before the F-16C could carry a nuclear bomb. The Fighters stationed at BTV have ALL been capable of carrying a “bomb”.
      But your group forgets one thing, the air national guard is not capable of storing said nuclear bombs because it does not have the facilities capable of securing, storing or maintaining them.

      So what is your point?

      • Christian Noll :

        “So what is your point?”

        His point is that the F-35 has little to do with defense.

        It is an attack aircraft designed to penetrate the air space of foreign nations for the purposes of bombing and attacking them.

        He questions Vermont’s role in this endeavor.

        That is his point.

        • Jim Busch :

          The “point” was to bring up the subject of the F-35 being able to carry nuclear bombs is irrelevant since every aircraft ever stationed, or currently, at BTV has had that capability.
          Also that BTV(the base itself) is not capable of storing, maintaining or securing nuclear weapons, thus it is illogical to even use that as an argument.

          • Christian Noll :

            I disagree.

            Mr Brown posts a ten sentence comment and only one of them asks:

            “Who exactly are these F35s going to drop nuclear bombs on, and how exactly would that be in Vermont’s interest?”

            It was not the entire point of his post, sorry.

        • Jim Busch :

          Once again Christian, you miss out…. Why mention Nuclear bombs at all when they are not even a viable subject matter to this situation? That is the point! It does nothing to add credence to a discussion or story subject matter except for “sensationalizm”.

          • Jim Busch :


          • Christian Noll :

            Your exact words were:

            “Why mention Nuclear Bombs when they are not even viable subject matter to this conversation?”

            How could asking what Mr Brown asked be “Not Viable” if the F-35 is Nuclear capable?

            Local tax payers have every right to ask.

            “Subject matter?” It was quite “viable” and he spoke of much more than that.

            Seems your desperately trying to black wash his questions about Nuclear Weapons and suggest that they are not relevant or “viable.”

            No “sensationalism” here Mr Busch.

            No “Rant” and no “Rage,” just honest questions from the tax payers who pay for it themselves.

            There is much more to Mr Brown’s post than what you suggest.

            Any question about “Nuclear bombs” or anything nuclear is a “viable” question to ask, at anytime regardless.

            You have this habit of making up rules about who’s allowed to participate and what questions are allowed to be asked. His post had everything to do with the article and addressed the piece quite well.

            Mr Brown’s post was right on the money. It had no sensationalism and it was completely viable.

          • Christian Noll :

            Jim I’m sorry I miss quoted you. I meant to say “a viable subject matter to this situation” as you have written.

            If that’s what you intended to say, that’s what I meant to write.


  2. Renée Carpenter :

    Good questions! And remembering yesterday’s article in vtdigger (with several links to follow for more information): “The New York Times article cites concerns about persistent technological glitches and worries that the F-35 flight range will be insufficient. The article also examined the likelihood that the F-35 program will fall victim to impending budget cuts.

    “Canada’s planned F-35 purchase has been mired in controversy since the Canadian government drastically underestimated the life-cycle costs of the planes. The audit, conducted by KPMG and due out this week, is expected to confirm that total program costs will exceed $30 billion, about $15 billion more than the government’s initial public estimate….”

    • Renee/Gaelan,

      The various politicians, such as, Leahy, Shumlin, Welch, Sanders, Weinberg, all have the same mindless mindset. The F-35 program is just one of their gigs for doing “constituent service” by:

      – chasing after subsidies and government programs,
      – creating multi-millionaire-crony-RE capitalists that produce expensive junk energy,
      – raising electric rates for already stressed households and businesses with their mindless RE programs,

      as if there is no to-morrow, no matter what the cost to people, as long as it benefits their “supporters/campaign contributers”.

      It is their way of job creation, instead of educating and training Vermont’s workforce. Their way of economic development.

      With regard to energy, none of them have any education, training and experience in the analysis of energy systems, but yet, they preach, pontificate, predict a la McKibben, a trained journalist turned RE/GW charlatan, who has articles in Rolling Stone magazine.

      They are hopelessly enmeshed in wind energy rhetoric, fed/whispered to them as talking points by wind energy promoters, that aim to convince skeptical Vermonters to build more highly-visible, environmentally-damaging, health-damaging, noise-making, property-devaluating, quality of life-reducing IWT wind turbines.

      – more federal subsidies
      – more wind energy jobs, but much less jobs in other sectors
      – more crony-capitalism.

      The Lowell Mountain ridge line energy costs about 10 c/kWh subsidized (per GMP), about 15 c/kWh unsubsidized (per USDOE).

      Grid prices are 5 c/kWh, unchanged for the past 3 years, thanks to a fortunate abundance of natural gas that keeps a lid on energy prices.

      Hydro Quebec prices are about 6c/kWh.

      Any higher costs to utilities, due to having to modify their grids and buying the expensive RE under long-term contracts, will be rolled into the electric rates of already-stressed households and businesses, as is the case in the UK, Denmark, Germany, etc.

      Wind energy is not only expensive and health- and environment-damaging, but, because of its intermittency and variability, is marginal regarding CO2 emissions reduction and mitigating GW.

      Vermont CO2 emissions from electricity generation is only 4% of its total state emissions. Building wind turbines is the wrong way for reducing CO2 emissions in Vermont.

      Buildings and vehicles are responsible for about 80% of Vermont’s CO2 emissions.

      For those who think wind energy is a solution, the following should be read:

      • Kathy Leonard :

        Willem, wasn’t this post about F-35s?
        As you chided me recently in the $$$ blowing in the wind post:
        “Your comment regarding VY is slurry and irrelevant to THIS discussion”

        Maybe my bringing up your support for Vermont Yankee touched a nerve.
        In any case, you might at least follow your own ‘rules’ on posting here, tyvm.

  3. Steve WIble :

    Plattsburgh would be thrilled to have the F-35’s. Send them over.

  4. rosemarie jackowski :

    The F-35 pushes Vermont in the wrong direction. Instead of more Weapons for Offence we should be working to shut down the Drone Base near Syracuse. Killing kids in Afghanistan, from a base so near to us, does not make any of us safer. Think about the BLOWBACK that results from US killing. Let’s all work to make the northeast a Drone Free Zone.

  5. Juliet Buck,

    The Governor and pals went on a private plane to Florida to listen to F-35s DURING THE DAY when there is a noisy background. People sleep at night.

    He said he was underwhelmed by the noise. How good is HIS hearing?

    Some decision making based on his own ears. What about a baby’s ears and ITS restful sleep?

    The same happened with Lowell Mountain IWTs; he went to look, saw few people nearby and proclaimed the site fine; his PSB followed suit, after pro-forma hearings.

    Here is some sound information regarding F-35s.

    Typical rural nighttime ambient noise is 20-40 dBA and urban residential nighttime noise is 58-62 dBA. Higher noise levels adversely impact restful sleep of people; restful sleep is a basic requirement for good mental and physical health.

    Doubling the sound pressure level, SPL, increases the dB instrument reading by 6 dB.

    For example: If at 800 uPa (micropascal) the SPL = 20 log (800/20) = 32 dB, at 1600 uPa it is 38 dB, and at 3200 uPa it is 44 dB, where 20 micropascal is the lowest SPL the human ear can sense, it is used as the reference pressure.

    The increase in SPL = 115 dBA (F-35) – 94 dBA (F-16) = 21 dBA. This appears to be an innocent number, but it is anything but.

    A 6 dBA increase means a doubling of SPL
    A 12 dBA increase means a quadrupling of SPL
    An 18 dBA increase means 8 times SPL
    A 21 dBA increase means between 8 and 16 times SPL

    A fly-over of an F-35 would have a 115 dBA – 60 dBA (nighttime residential) = 55 dBA greater sound; such a sound increase is sure to wake up everyone, except the dead.

    Remember : Each 6 dBA increase means a doubling of SPL
    24 dBA is 16x, 30 dBA is 32x, etc.

    Here are some common definitions often used in acoustics reports:

    LApeak is the maximum A-weighted SPL occurring within a specified time period.
    Lpeak is the maximum deviation of a signal from its mean value within a specified time period.
    LA1 is the A-weighted SPL that is exceeded 1 % of the time.
    LA10 is the A-weighted SPL that is exceeded 10% of the time.
    LA10(1 hr) is the A-weighted SPL that is exceeded 10% of the time within a 1 hour period.
    LA90 is the A-weighted SPL that is exceeded 90% of the time; usually the background SPL
    LAeq is the A-weighted SPL which over a period of time has the same sound energy as the time-varying noise.
    LA10 – LA90 is a measure of the “choppiness” of the noise.
    Ld = LAeq(15 hrs) is the A-weighted SPL of daytime noise 7AM – 10PM
    Ln = LAeq(9hrs) +10 dbA is the A-weighted SPL of max. allowed nighttime noise 10PM – 7AM
    C-weighted SPLs are required for LFN; A-weighing would render meaningless the SPLs of LFN.
    LCpeak is the maximum C-weighted SPL occurring within a specified time period.

    The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, MassDEP, measures noise levels at the complainant’s location and at other nearby locations that may be affected, such as residences and/or buildings with other sensitive receptors. 

    If the noise level at a sensitive receptor’s location is more than 10 dBA above ambient, MassDEP requires the noise source to mitigate its impact.

  6. WTF VTD?

    “Pressure” in the headline?
    “pressuring” in the lead?

    Show your bias much?

    How about “petitioning the government for redress of grievances”?

    Are you really OK with Leahy taking part in
    private decisions made privately?

    Yeah, of course the public IS the messy part of decision-making,
    but you might at least pay lip service to the democratic process.

  7. Then there’s David Carle’s smoke blowing
    (some would call it lying)
    that you print unchallenged, unexamined even.

    OF COURSE Congress can delegate a decision like the F-35,
    but it’s flat out untrue that Congress has no influence
    on military spending. Seriously, what are you thinking?

    Eisenhower initially called it
    the military-industrial-congressional complex for a reason.
    It’s a measure of Congress’s power
    that he chose to drop “congressional.”

    David Carle’s (and your) playing the 9/11 card is obscene.
    Also irrelevant and illogical, etc.
    Where, exactly, was the Air Force on 9/11?
    And boy didn’t those f-16s from Burlington
    just save the day and prevent our post-catastrophe panic?

    Have you no shame?



Comment Policy requires that all commenters identify themselves by their authentic first and last names. Initials, pseudonyms or screen names are not permissible.

No personal harrassment, abuse, or hate speech is permitted. Be succinct and to the point. If your comment is over 500 words, consider sending a commentary instead.

We personally review and moderate every comment that is posted here. This takes a lot of time; please consider donating to keep the conversation productive and informative.

The purpose of this policy is to encourage a civil discourse among readers who are willing to stand behind their identities and their comments. VTDigger has created a safe zone for readers who wish to engage in a thoughtful discussion on a range of subjects. We hope you join the conversation.

Privacy policy
Thanks for reporting an error with the story, "Stop the F-35 Coalition to pressure Leahy to hold public hearing"