A Michigan city has officially given its support to a nearby National Guard base hosting a strategic missile-interceptor site, the Battle Creek Enquirer reports.
The Battle Creek City Commission unanimously voted on Tuesday to support the candidacy of Fort Custer, a Michigan Army National Guard training installation located a few miles outside of the city, for hosting a possible third interceptor site of the U.S. Ground-based Midcourse Defense system.
Fort Custer is one of four U.S. military installations currently under consideration to host the site. The other contenders are Fort Drum in New York; Naval Air Station Portsmouth SERE Training Area in Maine; and Camp Ravenna Joint Training Center in Ohio.
Importantly, the Pentagon has not yet said that it will build another GMD interceptor site at all. Officials so far have begun preparing for Environmental Impact Statements on the four bases, following a direction by Congress. Some lawmakers support establishing a third interceptor site as a hedge against a possible strategic missile strike by Iran.
The Defense Department on Wednesday published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the intention to begin environmental studies on the four military bases and inviting the public to participate in the scoping process for the assessments.
"At each site, impacts will be assessed for the following resource categories -- air quality, air space, biological, cultural, geology and soils, hazardous materials and hazardous waste management, health and safety, land use, noise, socioeconomics, transportation, utilities, water quality, wetlands, visual and aesthetic, environmental justice, and subsistence," the notice states.
If established, the new interceptor site would initially wield 20 Ground Based Interceptors with the potential to be expanded to as many as 60. Currently, 30 long-range interceptors are deployed at two sister sites in Alaska and California, with plans to add an additional 14 missiles to the former state in 2017.
The environmental impact studies are anticipated to take a minimum of 18 months to complete.