January 31. 2014
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
(Reuters) – The U.S. Defense Department said on Friday it would conduct environmental impact studies for four possible missile defense sites in the eastern United States but stressed it had not yet decided to proceed with construction.
Congress, worried about Iran’s efforts to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, is urging the Pentagon to commit to an East Coast site. Defense officials say current interceptors on the West Coast can defend the country against possible missile attacks, and an extra interceptor site would add enormous costs to a military budget already under pressure.
Still, Pentagon officials are proceeding with the environmental impact study required under a directive in the 2013 defense authorization bill. In a statement issued Friday, the department said it would take about two years to complete a comprehensive environmental impact study, which will look at potential impacts to land use, water resources, air quality, transportation, socioeconomics and other factors.
The four sites are Fort Drum, New York; SERE Training Area at Naval Air Station, Portsmouth, Maine; Camp Ravenna Joint Training Center in Ohio; and Fort Custer Training Center in Michigan.
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