Vermont Press Releases

Clergy sends letter urging postponing F-35 decision

Dec. 11, 2012

Rabbi Joshua Chasan, [email protected]
Rev. Nancy Wright, [email protected]

Sixteen local religious leaders are urging the members of Vermont’s congressional delegation, Governor Shumlin and the mayors of Burlington and Winooski to advocate for postponing a decision about bringing the F35s to Vermont at this time, given that, if we want them, there will be other opportunities down the road for the jets to come to Vermont.

The full text of their letter follows:

We have listened carefully to the debate about whether or not F35 jets are to be bedded at our airport. Clearly, the community is divided. We appreciate the efforts you have made to sort through all the issues. We have read many of your words and appreciate your clear concern for the well being of all Vermonters.

Given that we are now only in the first of a number of rounds of basing decisions for the F35s, and given the number of unknowns and still unanswered questions, we urge you to advocate for postponing a decision about bringing the F35s to Vermont at this time.

Whatever one’s point of view, it is clear that many people in Winooski, South Burlington and other communities are very fearful of the consequences of the presence of the F35s here in the most densely populated part of Vermont. The seven to nine thousand people directly affected include many low income Vermonters and many people of color, amongst the most vulnerable of our citizens.

We know that you recognize the ways in which these Vermonters already are at risk socially and economically. We ask you to increase the weight of this burden vis-a-vis concern for the over-all economy as you continue to reflect on the issue. We also ask you to continue to investigate and study the unanswered questions and concerns about the environment.

We understand the argument for jobs and remain unsure of the economic impact on the region as a whole—as there is much that is uncertain about the effects of bringing the F35s here. Given this uncertainty, given that this is not the last opportunity for the planes to come here, it seems to us unfair to place the burden of this doubt on those who already struggle the most to achieve social and economic security for themselves and their children

This is not a pro-military or anti-military debate. Amongst those most affected are veterans of World War II and Korea for whom the value of their homes is the whole of their financial equity. We are not asking you to oppose these planes coming to Vermont. We are asking you to advocate for a delay in such a decision by requesting that Vermont be removed from the first round of basing decisions so that we Vermonters can reach a consensus, based on clearing up so many of the questions that remain unanswered in the minds of many residents.

If we can play a role in mediating this debate, we are available. Not to bring the planes now does not necessarily mean that they cannot come. As it is a time for compromise in Washington, it is time for this issue to be resolved, not by decree, but by salient arguments in a civil debate.


Rev. J. Stannard Baker
Rev. Jack Bremer
Rev. Will Burhans
Rev. Adrianne Carr
Rabbi Joshua Chasan
Rev. Roddy O’Neil Cleary
Joanna Cole
Rev. Roberta Finkelstein
Rev. Sarah Flynn
Sr. Arlene Gates
The Rev. Mark H. Hatch
Rev. Debbie Ingram
Sr. Pat McKittrick, SP
Rabbi Jan Salzman
The Rev. Robert K. Stuhlmann
Rev. Nancy Wright

Signatories represent themselves and not the congregations or organizations which they serve.

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  • Dear Reverends,

    Thank the Lord. The religious community is finally speaking up in public. The people need all the help they can get to overcome determined folks who have selfish interests at heart, but use “defend the country” statements to justify their actions.

    The Canadians just cancelled THEIR F-35 order, because the annual cost of THEIR F-35 program would be 2x estimated. See an article on this site.

    Here is is some information on noise:

    The whitewash is on-going. The Air Force is refusing to do some landings, take-offs and maneuvers near the airport to demonstrate to the people within about a mile of the runway that all is OK and there is nothing to worry about….

    Europe is requiring that commercial planes are designed to be quieter. Boeing and Airbus are bragging about how much quieter their planes are, and here comes along the Air Force and make things worse. Insanity run amok.

    This is not about defending the US. This is about federal money coming to Vermont to fund about 300- 400 operations and maintenance jobs in the Greater Burlington Area. That is why government leaders Leahy, Sanders, Welch, etc., are for it.

    Those planes need not be in Burlington, Vermont, to defend the US. They should be in forward bases, such as northern Maine, to defend the US from any enemy fighters coming from Europe.

    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
    24 dBA is 16 times; 30 dBA is 32 times; 36 dBA is 64 times; 42 dBA is 128 times, 48 dBA is 256 times, 54 dBA is 512 times.

    A nighttime 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.

    A nighttime fly-over of an F-16 would have a 94 dBA – 60 dBA (nighttime residential) = 34 dBA greater sound; residents near the end of the runway are barely tolerating such a sound increase.

    The F-35 sound will be 21 dBA greater than of the F-16, which will be perceived by residents as being about 7-10 times louder.