Over a hundred protesters chanted “Human need, not corporate greed” around the State Capitol last Friday. They gathered to protest a proposal to station F-35 fighter jets at Truax Field on the northside of Madison.
Jennie Capellaro is an activist with Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin, which organized the demonstration.
Capellaro lives in the F-35s’ 65 decibel noise contour where buildings are incompatible with residential use. She says that the noise from the F-16s stationed at Truax is already “barely tolerable,” but that louder jets are just one of her concerns.
“Something that I don’t believe is covered in the environmental impact statement is the PFAS pollution from the base that hasn’t been addressed, and is of great concern to neighbors,” Capellaro says. “[Well 15] is shut down because of that pollution, we don’t know the extent of it, and I just think that if a well is shut down, that should be alarming to people.”
Capellaro also says she believes the F-35s will contribute to greater air pollution and disproportionately affect one of the last areas in Madison with affordable housing.
Another protestor, Gisla Wilson, believes those concerns would be an example of environmental racism.
“A very large, low-income community is actually near the airport, and those houses, and the schools in that area, and the daycare centers, and the special education centers, all those people would be affected even more negatively than they are now” Wilson says.
“And actually, the World Health Organization has shown that even the F-16s interfere with learning with learning and cognitive development. Here we are complaining about the education achievement gap, and yet these communities we keep on asking them to put up with more bulls*** like the F-35s.”
During Friday’s demonstration, Alder Rebecca Kemble called upon protestors to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives to oppose the F-35s.
But, at a press conference in Madison today, Representative Mark Pocan said he wants critics and advocates of the jets to agree on some “basic” points, such as hearing a sound comparison between the F-16s currently stationed at Truax and the proposed F-35s.
“I’m not totally happy with either [the] proponents or the opponents [of the F-35s] because I think the world is not white and black, and in this case I think there’s some bad advice that’s been given by folks from out of state, and unfortunately some folks have followed that,” Pocan says.
“One [piece of bad advice] was don’t have two planes fly because one could be full and one could be empty and they’ll sound totally different, and the other advice is that it’s all up to politicians on this. Again, if it’s all up to politicians, we wouldn’t even have been in the mix. It would be Mississippi, Alabama, [or other] places that are really red [that] could have got the F-35s, or Indiana, [which is] closer to Chicago, if that was what they were trying to do.”
If the Air Force does select Truax as the next site for F-35s, Pocan says his main goal is to help those living in the contour where housing is incompatible with residential use pay for noise abatement measures.