Tester, Walsh, Daines call for grounding of Powder River expansion
Montana delegation says Montanans’ concerns must be addressed
(U.S. Congress) – Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh and Senator-elect Steve Daines are once again calling on the heads of the Air Force and the FAA to stop the proposed expansion of the Powder River Training Complex until their concerns are addressed.
Tester, Walsh and Daines say the expansion, which would enlarge a 28,000 square mile training space for Air Force bombers further into Montana, would disrupt local aviation, hurt agriculture activity on farms and ranches and affect local communities.
“While we appreciate the Air Force’s on-going efforts to address our concerns, we remain extremely troubled that the proposal, as currently written, will hinder economic development and threaten safety in the region,” Tester, Walsh and Daines wrote. “We urge you to deny your approval of the final Environmental Impact Statement until our concerns have been addressed.”
Tester, Walsh and Daines say the current proposal would lead to conflict between Air Force planes and low-flying local aviation – including oil and gas pipeline inspectors. They also say the expansion could impede economic development in the fast-growing Bakken and want to know how the two agencies will communicate with civilians, local pilots and air traffic controllers.
Montana’s delegation wrote the letter in direct response to the Air Force’s recently released Environmental Impact Statement.
All Air Force aircraft using the Montana airspace would come from North Dakota or South Dakota.
Tester and Walsh earlier this year demanded the FAA make a purported “public comment process” fully public by posting its study of the proposed expansion on its website.
Daines also called on the Air Force and FAA to take into account the safety, economic and other concerns of Montana stakeholders before finalizing the Air Force’s proposed expansion.