Environmental Report Issued for Powder River Expansion

The Air Force last week released the final environmental impact report on its proposed expansion of the Powder River Training Complex in several Great Plains states, reported the Bismarck Tribune of North Dakota. The Nov. 28 posting at the Federal Register that the environmental impact statement was available is one of the last bureaucratic steps in the expansion process and starts a 30-day period of public review that will conclude on Dec. 29. Thereafter, the Air Force may issue a record of decision codifying the expansion. The Federal Aviation Administration must also issue a ROD, states the Tribune’s Nov. 30 report. The Air Force wants to quadruple the size of the complex’s airspace, which covers parts of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, to improve training realism for B-1 and B-52 aircrews operating from Ellsworth AFB, S.D., and Minot AFB. N.D., respectively. This includes supersonic flight, employing defensive chaff and flares, low- altitude flying, and large-force engagements. “The new plan will make Powder River Training Complex the largest training airspace over the continental US,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) in a Nov. 28 release. (EIS executive summary) (Visit the Air Force’s Powder River webpage to access the complete EIS.)