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Vermont still top choice for F-35 - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont still top choice for F-35

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

The final report on the F-35 comes out next Friday, but WCAX News has learned that in it, Vermont is still at the top of the Air Force's list to base the fighter jets.

That Environmental Impact Statement names South Burlington as the best place for the new fleet of high-tech jets. The 2010 EIS found the same thing.

It's good news that came ahead of schedule for F-35 supporter Nicole Citro.

"I think it is a great vote of confidence to the Vermont Air National Guard and a nod to the excellence that we have here," said Nicole Citro, with Green Ribbons for the F-35.

A final report on the fighter jets is due out next week, but Wednesday Vermont's congressional delegation released details from the Environmental Impact Statement that show South Burlington as the best place for the high-tech fleet. It highlighted thousands of postcards, letters and emails that came in on where to base the F-35s. More than 9,800 of them were in favor of basing the jets in Vermont, compared to roughly 1,300 that opposed the idea.

"There is always going to be a Vermont Air National Guard, but if they do not have a mission than there will be a diminished personnel there," Citro explained.

Rosanne Greco is on the South Burlington City Council and is a long-time opponent of bringing the jets to the Green Mountains.

She's reminding people a final decision has not been made. The retired member of the Air Force is now pointing to what she says are toxic materials that are used to make the jets as dangerous for our region.

"They're very, very toxic, they release poisonous gas. Those details were not included in the EIS and they are very significant, so that could be another factor to stop it," Greco explained.

Greco is once again appealing to the Burlington City Council to take a stand.

"At a minimum, my hope would be that the Burlington City Council would vote to block this so that we could at least understand the risks involved and whether there are any ways of avoiding those," Greco explained.

Citro says Greco's argument is just another attempt to diminish efforts to bring the fleet to South Burlington.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed as we come into the final couple pieces of the process but I am definitely looking forward to the opportunity to say congratulations for an extraordinary job," Citro said.

A final decision on where to base the new jets will come from the Air Force. 

The Vermont Guard says that decision is at least a month away and may come late this fall.

Click here for the Air Combat Command's Posting of the Environmental Impact Statement.

Click here for more stories on the F-35.

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