With the deadline approaching tonight for public comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement surrounding the expansion of Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, Senator Lisa Murkowski today finalized and submitted her thoughts on the enhancements and modernization via letter (attached).
To the unique advantages provided by Alaska, Murkowski writes:
"As the comment period on the DEIS closes my office has not been given the opportunity to review the comments submitted by stakeholders. Accordingly I will reserve judgment on the various alternatives presented by the DEIS at this time. I do believe, however, that the "No Action" alternative should not be adopted. The world class JPARC is a key attribute of Alaska's value to the military in the 21st Century. No place else in America does the military have the opportunity to conduct state of the art training in diverse terrains without risk of encumbrance."
In order to be responsive and cooperative with Alaska's aviation community, Senator Murkowski writes:
"Military operations must be conducted in harmony with the needs of other uses and users of Alaska's lands and airspace. General aviation is particularly important in Alaska as a means of commerce, subsistence, recreation and emergency transportation. In preparing the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) every effort should be undertaken to harmonize mission requirements and community needs in order that user conflicts be avoided or mitigated to the maximum extent feasible."
Speaking to the cohesion of the Alaskan community with the military, Murkowski observes:
"For decades the military has proven to be a good partner through its significant year- round contributions to Alaska's economy. In recent months, as the Interior Alaska community has been forced to come to grips with the prospect of a devastating possible downsizing of Eielson Air Force Base, this longstanding trust has been tested.
"I fully expect that the people of Alaska will once again rise to support the military's needs in JPARC. However it is also appropriate that the military provide Alaskans with a modicum of certainty that in return our Armed Forces will continue to be good stewards of Alaska's economy."