The complaint was brought by a group of Boise residents and an environmental organization.
MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho – The U.S. Air Force faces legal action to stop proposed training exercises in nine cities in southern Idaho, court documents show.
These towns include Boise, Mountain Home, Burley, Twin Falls, Grand View, Bruneau, Glenns Ferry, Hammett, and Mountain Home Air Force Base.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Idaho on Monday by seven Boise residents and an environmental organization called Great Old Broads for Wilderness, which is a nonprofit group that works to preserve public lands.
The lawsuit lists the potential dangers the program could cause and says the Air Force has not done enough to inform the public or municipalities of its plans.
According to the lawsuit filed in court, the training “endangers the health, safety and quality of life of Idahoans, as well as birds and wildlife.”
“We also take issue with the lack of an environmental review,” said Sarah Stellberg, a lawyer at Advocates for the West, who filed the complaint.
According to the environmental assessment carried out by the Air Force in November, “no significant impact” was observed on noise, air quality, airspace management, occupancy of airspace. soil, health or safety.
The report stated that “all activities were found to comply with environmental quality criteria or standards and were coordinated with the appropriate federal, state and local agencies.”
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The training offered could include up to 160 training events per year.
The training would involve planes overflying cities in Idaho and communicating with military personnel in civilian clothing on the ground to identify targets with low-powered lasers, military officials said. They stressed the need for urban training to simulate “urban environments encountered in combat”.
In response to residents’ concerns about lasers, the Air Force said, the lasers “would not be harmful to the eyes.”
Residents also feel that they have not received enough notice or information about the project.
“When I first heard about it, I had several questions and I still have many unanswered questions about this proposal,” Anne Hausrath, a resident of Boise. “I don’t feel they’ve done enough to convince me that they’ve considered other alternatives.”
In the lawsuit filed in court, he also says noise levels are a concern for residents.
According to the Air Force, this training would be done at a significantly high altitude.
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“When we do this training, we will be over 10,000 feet above ground, which is over two miles above,” said Major Dave Bervig, an F-15E pilot with the 366 Fighter Wing.
In the Air Force environmental report, he compares sound levels in decibels. According to reports, dBA is the level at which a person on the ground would be able to hear something.
He gives examples like a theater, which has a frequency of about 40 dBA. An indoor rock concert or a motorcycle heard from the rider’s position would ring at around 100 dBA. By comparison, Air Force reports show that the highest dBA an F-15 would have achieved, would be during four-flight training, and would reach around 59.3 dBA.
Stellberg said the Air Force also failed to respond to several public comments on the project, which it says it is required to do by law.
In its CAS documents on its website, the Air Force lists hundreds of pages of public comment and response to them.
Bervig said this type of training is necessary because it prepares troops for all types of situations and barriers, including tall buildings. It is on this practical training that Air Force troops rely in combat.
“The urban close air support program is valuable because it gives us realistic training in this complex and dynamic environment,” he said. “And it allows us to develop the skills we need to be successful in combat. What this means to us means that we are able to ensure that we can bring more of our soldiers home safely to their families. “
Bervig added that the Air Force would not harm its neighboring communities.
“We are honored to live and serve in the state of Idaho,” he said. “We very much appreciate the positive relationship we have with the community in the state of Idaho, in the Treasure Valley. “
Stellberg said the lawsuit asks the court to stop training and not allow it to continue unless the Air Force can engage and raise public awareness, along with a proper impact assessment, as required by law.
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