Lt. Gov. Phil Scott testifies in support of F-35s at Burlington airport
First of all, I want to thank you for allowing not only me, but the citizens of Vermont, the opportunity to offer our opinions on the possibility of locating the F-35 program at our base in Vermont.
I understand there are some here to testify in opposition, and I respect their views. While we may not agree on the siting, I’m confident we join hands in our gratitude for your service and your mission in keeping our nation safe. Thank you!
I believe siting the F-35 program in South Burlington is a great opportunity for Chittenden County and the state as a whole, and an important recognition of the first-class personnel and facilities that make up the Vermont Air National Guard Base.
One of my fears is that, with all of the talk at the Federal level about reducing costs, if the program is not located here, there is a real chance the base could be reduced in size or possibly closed altogether. This would have a profound impact on the City of South Burlington, the Chittenden County Region, and the state as a whole. And it’s not just the 400 jobs; it’s the ripple effect as well. The Vermont Air National Guard provides free fire and rescue services to the airport, which in turn saves the airport a couple of million dollars in annual expenditures. Losing the base could lead to fewer passengers flying in and out of our state. We enjoy a tremendous amount of traffic from Canada, flying in and out of our airport, with many staying the night in hotels, eating in our restaurants, and shopping in our stores.
Let’s also not forget that the aircraft stationed in South Burlington are there for defensive purposes. This base holds an important strategic position to defend the eastern seaboard. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, the Vermont Air National Guard patrolled New York City and Washington, DC for 122 days.
It is no accident that this elite squad bears the name of Ethan Allen’s own band that fought against the British during the Revolutionary War. The Green Mountain Boys is part of Vermont’s heritage, and is certainly a distinction of honor.
It is my belief that the F-35 coming to Vermont makes good economic sense, and our base being chosen as a site is an acknowledgement of the long tradition of Vermonters who have defended our nation. I (and, I believe, the majority of Vermonters) thank you for your consideration.
Testimony given by Lt. Governor Phil Scott on May 14, 2012, during a public meeting at South Burlington High School to discuss the environmental impact of stationing the U.S. Air Force’s next generation F-35 fighters at Burlington International Airport.