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Fort Drum one of four sites selected for environmental study for potential East Coast missile site

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FORT DRUM — The post is one step closer to the potential placement of missiles, as the Missile Defense Agency announced it will conduct an environmental impact study there and at three other locations.

The studies, which will take about 24 months, will also happen at Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center, Ohio; Portsmouth Naval Shipyard SERE Training Area, Maine; and Fort Custer Training Center, Mich.

According to the agency, the study will “assess environmental impacts at each of the sites, to include potential impacts to land use, water resources, air quality, transportation, socioeconomics and other factors established by the National Environmental Policy Act.” The agency said public comment is encouraged, which they will collect through public meetings, written comments and public review of draft and final documents.

Despite Friday’s announcement, the agency said it has not made a final decision to place missiles on the East Coast. Congress recently appropriated $20 million for the evaluation process.

Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, in a statement, said he was pleased with the agency’s announcement.

“While there are many remaining steps in this process, this is great news for the region and a positive step forward,” he said. “Clearly, the Department of Defense understands the strong support the base enjoys from the community.”

If such a site were created, it would join existing sites at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Fort Drum has been considered a favorite by some due to the development of a new missile defense data terminal complex, which are only found at the two missile sites.

The development of an Eastern missile site is supported by lawmakers who say it will protect the country from attacks from North Korea and Iran. However, opponents of the development say the cost of such an installation is too high, and that the current missile technology is not effective in stopping incoming attacks.

Navy Vice Adm. James D. Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, told Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., in June that there were cheaper alternatives to protect the country than a new missile location.

Friday’s announcement follows the initial selection of five sites for review in September. The one site that did not move forward for environmental study was Camp Ethan Allen, Vt.

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