The Wisconsin Assembly passed a resolution last month supporting F-35 fighter jets in Madison, which may have large effects on the city’s noise levels — and lasting health consequences for those in the affected area.
The resolution is in response to the Air Force’s decision to consider Truax Field, a military base located at the Dane County Airport, as a home to two F-35 squadrons. The Assembly approved the resolution on a 87-9 vote.
Though the decision was made at the state level, it could have local consequences.
The state Assembly’s decision comes after the Madison Common Council voted to approve a resolution asking the Air Force to reconsider the location of Truax Field on Sept. 19, after a draft environmental study was conducted on the placement of the jets. The study sparked concern for many city officials.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway released a statement on Nov. 1 urging the Air Force to reconsider Madison as a preferred location, citing issues raised from a recent environmental impact study. The study predicted increased levels of noise pollution that would disproportionately affect low-income and minority areas, as well as disturb local schools.
The F-35 jets could cause peak noise levels of over 100 decibels — the same volume produced by jackhammer — according to the study.
“Health impacts associated with long term exposure to noise levels similar to those expected from the F-35s include: sleep disturbance, decreased school performance, increased levels of stress, hearing impairment, annoyance, hypertension and heart disease,” Rhodes-Conway explained.
The Board of Health for Madison and Dane County was unavailable to comment on the issue.
The main authors of the state Assembly’s resolution, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Rep. Tony Kurtz, argue that noise concerns are exaggerated and housing F-35s at Truax will ensure the military base remains open.
Citizens in favor of housing the jets at Truax Field also argue that it would help support the military and bring in significant economic revenue, according to Cap Times.
Ultimately, the Air Force has the final decision on whether or not Truax Field will be chosen to house the F-35 jets.
“If preferred locations, such as Madison, are known to have significant negative impacts as shown in the final EIS, the Air Force must be prepared to prevent and/or fully mitigate those impacts,” Rhodes-Conway said. “Absent that, it will not be possible for me to support the selection of Madison for this bed-down.”