WASHINGTON, DC – Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-Pomona), member of the powerful Rules Committee, announced passage of a legislative proposal she introduced to assist local airports, like Ontario International Airport, remove unused military facilities. Ontario International Airport shared space with the Ontario Air National Guard Station, which remained in operation for decades to provide training and support for the Korean, Vietnam, and other wars and conflicts. In 1997, the facility closed and the site sat unchanged for twenty years. Last month, Torres viewed the National Guard barracks and airplane hangar and met with airport officials to discuss how to improve the vacant military facilities.
“When military bases are closed it can be devastating to local communities. My recent tour of Ontario International Airport illustrated the economic, environmental, and health risks of continuing to allow these vacant facilities full of lead-based paint and asbestos to sit vacant,” said Torres. “As the Los Angeles region expands, every piece of used land will be needed for the airport to keep pace with need. With the passage of my legislative proposal, we’re moving one step closer to helping our local airports grow and thrive.”
Torres’s legislative proposal would allow airports to use funds from the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) account to remove military facilities. The proposal passed as part of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill for Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.
Torres is the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Budget Task Force and represents California’s 35th congressional district, which includes Ontario International Airport. One of her first accomplishments upon being elected to Congress was returning the airport to local control—which has already resulted in more flights and options for the residents of the Inland Empire. In April, two of Torres’s legislative proposals to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2018 passed on the House floor. The first amendment would create an Environmental Mitigation Pilot Program to allow the Department of Defense to provide additional funding for airport improvements at vacant facilities, including those located in Ontario. The second amendment would add economic impacts to the study on the effects of airport noise on communities near busy airports.