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Imperial Valley Press: Integrity of Navy is questioned as new data on the Joint Strike Fighter home basing is revealed

30 Jun 2014

Imperial Valley Press: Integrity of Navy is questioned as new data on the Joint Strike Fighter home basing is revealed

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Imperial Valley Press: Integrity of Navy is questioned as new data on the Joint Strike Fighter home basing is revealed

June 29, 2014

Contact:  Krista Daly at kdaly@ivpressonline.com or 760-337-3445

Community members are questioning the Navy as contradictory information regarding the Joint Strike Fighter home basing is being revealed.

In comparing data the Navy sent U.S. Rep. Juan Vargas one year ago on the specific ranges the F-35C would be sent to if it were home based at Naval Air Facility El Centro along with costs associated with those flights to data sent to the House Armed Services Committee just last month on the same information, it’s clear the numbers are significantly different.

Steve-Moffitt“To any normal person, a difference in data like this should raise questions,” said Steve Moffit, lobbyist for the Imperial Valley United for Joint Strike Fighter Coalition.

Moffit was requested by the HASC to respond to the Navy’s document outlining the criteria of home basing and refuting the Imperial Valley United for a Joint Strike Fighter’s cost analysis. He concludes that the Navy needs to consider both cost and weather in its decision and, most importantly, that the Navy submitted two different sets of data to Congress.

“This raises questions about the integrity of the Navy’s decision-making process relative to home basing the F-35C on the West Coast,” Moffit stated in his response.

The savings of flight hour costs alone, according to Imperial Valley United for Joint Strike Fighter, is about $128 million. However, the cost savings according to data provided to HASC is only a savings of $28 million.

“They’re trying to downplay the costs,” said coalition member Jack Terrazas. “Why would you move the whole operation when all it’s going to do is save $28 million?”

Since the information was released four days after the Final Environmental Impact Statement was completed, it seems as though it’s a matter of convenience that the number are incorrect. Terrazas said if the data from the coalition were wrong, it should have been realized much earlier.

“It reaffirms the belief that they already made the decision and they were just going through the process,” he said. “It takes a lot of credibility away from the process.”

Coalition co-chairwoman Lisa Gallinat said the Navy previously did not refute its comment about the cost savings in a response to the draft EIS. Yet, the numbers are now inconsistent.

“It does not make us feel real confident about how the EIS was performed,” she said. “They need to start over … There are far too many inconsistencies.”

“We just believe the EIS is incomplete and I don’t know how they can make a determination without the proper facts,” she added.

Gallinat said the best solution is to follow the National Environmental Policy Act by terminating the EIS results and finding an impartial entity to complete a new EIS.

“We don’t believe that they can issue a Record of Decision at this point,” she said. “How can they possibly justify it?”

The Secretary of the Navy has the option to make the Record of Decision or take the comments into consideration. Gallinat said the coalition is hopeful the Navy will ensure the community’s concerns are addressed before making a decision.

However, if a Record of Decision is made based on this information, the coalition or the county can take legal measures. Though the coalition would not be able to afford it, the county could consider legally challenging the EIS.

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