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Air Force delays deadline on jet transfer comments

Jul. 31, 2013 - 04:12PM   |  
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FAIRBANKS, ALASKA — Responding to criticism from Alaska's congressional delegation, the Air Force is giving people more time to comment on its plan to move an F-16 squadron from Fairbanks to Anchorage.

The new deadline on the draft environmental impact assessment will be Aug. 30. It had previously been this Friday.

The three members of Alaska's congressional delegation U.S. Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young had complained to military officials that there wasn't enough time for people to properly comment on the plan, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Wednesday.

The three members of the delegation, along with scores of Alaskans at public hearings this month, have expressed misgivings about moving the squadron from Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

The Air Force claims the move will save $227 million. However, critics point to the draft statement, which notes the economic impact to the Fairbanks and North Pole areas.

According to the document, the move would create a 2.5 percent hike in unemployment in the Fairbanks North Star borough, and increase the vacancy rate in rental units by 8 percent.

The Senate Defense Appropriates subcommittee on Tuesday approved language supported by Begich and Murkowski that would not allow the Air Force to spend money to move the F-16 Aggressor Squadron from Fairbanks. The full committee is expected to consider the proposal Thursday.

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