WASHINGTON — A draft environmental assessment released July 13 by the Department of the Air Force said the proposed relocation of U.S. Space Command to Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, would have “no significant impacts on the human or natural environment.”
The Air Force also conducted environmental assessments of five other locations considered “reasonable alternatives” — Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado; Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico; Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska; Port San Antonio, Texas; and Space Coast Spaceport, Florida. No environmental impacts were found at any of these other locations. U.S. Space Command is currently based at Peterson.
These reviews are required by the National Environmental Policy Act. After the release of the draft document there is a 30-day public comment period. The final environmental assessment will take into account comments received before making a final basing decision for the command’s headquarters.
Space Command is responsible for providing satellite-based services to the U.S. military and for protecting those assets from foreign threats.
The January 2021 selection of Redstone Arsenal as the preferred location for U.S. Space Command headquarters has been challenged by Colorado lawmakers. The decision process has been reviewed by the Department of Defense Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office.
Before the Secretary of the Air Force makes its final decision, the department said it will review concerns expressed by the DoD IG and GAO that the selection process did not adequately consider how long it would take for Space Command headquarters to reach “full operational capability” once it relocates.
Other issues that will be looked at before the final decision is made are the analysis criteria for “childcare, housing affordability and access to military/veteran support, to verify that identification of the preferred alternative was supported,” the Air Force said July 13.
Colorado lawmakers allege that former president Trump improperly influenced the decision and that the Air Force’s basing process did not properly take into account senior military officials’ concerns that the relocation would add years to Space Command efforts to reach full operational capacity as soon as possible.
Approximately 1,450 personnel would be assigned to the proposed U.S. Space Command headquarters facility, Support contractors and other partners would be co-located, so the environment review assessed the impact of 1,800 personnel.
The proposed headquarters would consist of approximately 464,000 square feet of office space and approximately 402,000 square feet of vehicle parking.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) said the Air Force draft review is a “welcomed result.”
“I look forward to the conclusion of the comment period and doing what I can to support Space Command as it makes Huntsville its new home,” he said in a statement.
Sen. Michael Bennet in a statement said Colorado is the “rightful home for U.S Space Command, especially given Peterson’s unique ability to reach full operational capability faster than other candidate bases. I will continue to work with Coloradans to express ongoing concerns about the Trump Administration’s flawed decision.”