FAIRBANKS — Alaskans will have an extra four weeks to comment on the environmental review of the Air Force’s plan to move Eielson Air Force Base’s F-16 squadron to Anchorage.
Responding to criticism from Alaska’s congressional delegation that the Air Force wasn’t giving Alaskans enough time, the service announced Tuesday the deadline will be moved from Friday to Aug. 30 to comment on a draft environmental impact statement.
The environmental statement, released earlier this summer, identified moving the F-16s as the Air Force’s “preferred alternative” to leaving the planes at Eielson. It did identify negative economic consequences for the Interior if the squadron leaves, including an estimated 2.5 percent spike in the borough unemployment rate and a more than 8 percent increase in the rental vacancy rate.
A final environmental impact statement will be written after the comment period on the draft environmental statement closes.
Alaska’s congressional delegation has opposed moving Eielson’s F-16 squadron across the state since the Air Force announced the plan in February 2012 as a proposed cost-cutting measure.
Also on Tuesday, the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee approved language backed by Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich that would change U.S. law to ban the Air Force from spending money to move the F-16s. The language goes to the full committee on Thursday.
Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545. Follow him on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.