Project Fact Sheet

The U.S. Air Force has prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to analyze the potential effects on the human and natural environments from (1) deployment of the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system and (2) decommissioning and disposal of the Minuteman III (MMIII) ICBM system.

Proposed Action

The Proposed Action includes replacing all land based MMIII ICBMs deployed in the continental United States with GBSD ICBMs. All components of the MMIII missile would be replaced, including the three motors, two interstages, propulsion system rocket engine, and missile guidance set. The number, size, configuration, and design of the nuclear warheads provided by the Department of Energy would remain unchanged. Elements of the Proposed Action include:

On-Base Construction

  • Construct or modify facilities and infrastructure as necessary to support GBSD maintenance, training, storage, testing, and support at F.E. Warren Air Force Base (AFB), Malmstrom AFB, Minot AFB, Hill AFB, the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR), and Camp Guernsey.

Missile Alert Facilities and Launch Facilities

  • Demolish all 45 missile alert facilities (MAFs) in the missile fields.

  • Construct a communication support building at each MAF location.

  • Construct a launch center within the property boundaries of at least 24 of the MAFs.

  • Renovate all 450 existing launch facilities in the missile fields to like-new condition.

Utility Corridors

  • Establish approximately 3,100 miles of new utility corridors.

  • Acquire 100 feet of temporary construction easements.

  • Acquire 16 feet of permanent easements to install and maintain utilities.

  • Place no aboveground permanent infrastructure within the easements.

  • Conduct activities within the 4,900 miles of existing utility corridors and easements.

  • Acquire temporary easements to supplement the existing easements during construction.

Communication Towers

  • Acquire property rights to construct 62 communication towers within the three missile fields: 18 at F.E. Warren AFB, 31 at Malmstrom AFB, and 13 at Minot AFB.

  • Construct 300-foot towers supported by guy wires.

  • Tower sites would be approximately 5 acres in size and generally be located near existing roads and utilities and avoid sensitive resources.

Temporary Workforce Hubs and Centralized Laydown Areas

  • Establish temporary workforce hubs for up to 2,500–3,000 employees (during peak construction periods) in the vicinity of Great Falls and Lewistown, MT; Kimball, NE; and Minot, ND.

  • Establish temporary construction laydown areas of about 13 acres throughout the missile fields.

  • Use workforce hubs and laydown areas for 2–5 years.

MMIII Decommissioning and Disposal

  • Remove, decommission, and dispose of the MMIII weapon system and associated facilities at F.E. Warren AFB, Malmstrom AFB, Minot AFB, Hill AFB, UTTR, and Camp Navajo.

Reduced Utility Corridors Alternative

In addition to the Proposed Action, the EIS also assesses a Reduced Utility Corridors Alternative, which includes a sizeable reduction in the amount of new utility corridors to be established and a marginal reduction in the amount of existing utility corridors that would be reutilized. As part of this alternative, it would be anticipated that:

  • The amount of new utility corridors would be 75 to 80 percent less than those shown in the Proposed Action.

  • The amount of existing utility corridors would be 15 to 20 percent less than those shown in the Proposed Action.

  • The affected landowners and parcels would be up to 80 to 90 percent less than shown in the Proposed Action.

  • The overall off-base construction force would be slightly less than shown in the Proposed Action.

As part of the Reduced Utility Corridors Alternative, the Air Force would strive to provide the required security redundancies while striving to minimize the amount of new property, and subsequently, the number of landowners and parcels affected.

No Action Alternative

Under the No Action Alternative, the MMIII would not be replaced by GBSD. The existing MMIII infrastructure would continue to be utilized with increasing levels of maintenance and repair until the system was no longer functional. No major infrastructure upgrades would be completed.

Environmental Effects of the Proposed Action

The Proposed Action would have significant adverse effects on cultural resources, public health and safety, socioeconomics, and utilities and infrastructure. The Proposed Action would have less-than-significant adverse or negligible effects on other resource areas. Beneficial effects would also be realized from the proposed action for some resources, such as the long-term effects to health and safety resulting from reduced operations and maintenance demands of the new GBSD system.

Cultural Resources. Short-term and long-term significant effects would result to cultural resources, which include archaeological sites, historic resources, traditional tribal places, and historic architecture. Short-term effects would result from changes to the setting of resources. Long-term effects would occur from changes to setting, as well as direct physical damage to cultural resources from ground-disturbing activities from all elements of GBSD construction, from decommissioning and disposal of the MMIII facilities, and from conversion of on-base launch facility trainers to the GBSD system.

Efforts to avoid or minimize adverse effects would include siting avoidance and design, monitoring during construction to address inadvertent discoveries, and training the workforce to respect and protect cultural resources they encounter. Proposed mitigation includes recording and documenting resources, collecting information and their histories from our tribal partners and communities, and developing interpretive and educational materials for the public. In addition, the Air Force is currently developing a programmatic agreement with our heritage preservation partners that will clearly define efforts to mitigate the adverse effects.

Public Health and Safety. The Proposed Action would have short-term less-than-significant adverse and long- term beneficial effects on the health and safety of workers and could have short-term significant adverse effects on public health and safety. Short-term significant adverse effects on public health and safety would be the result of the influx of the temporary workforce, which could increase crime and would put additional strain on local medical, law enforcement, and firefighting resources. Long-term beneficial effects would also be expected as the new system requires less frequent maintenance than the current system and would reduce the frequency with which workers would be subjected to potential health and safety risks.

Socioeconomics. The primary socioeconomic impact from the Proposed Action would be to stimulate the economy through job and income creation, resulting in significant beneficial economic effects. The construction investment expected is about $3.2 billion for FE Warren AFB, $2.8 billion for Malmstrom AFB, and $3.3 billion for Minot AFB.

The Proposed Action would also have short-term significant adverse effects on socioeconomics. The federal government spending would generate employment and would be expected to increase the population because of job seekers looking for work directly or indirectly related to the Proposed Action. These gains would be significant because they would exceed historical annual average changes in some communities and create added demand on public schools in the area. Although the Air Force has a goal of filling an estimated 20% of jobs using local workers, the Proposed Action would attract unaccompanied construction workers from outside the region, and the Air Force’s prime contractor would build workforce hubs to accommodate this. These measures would reduce the number of workers with dependents relocating to the region. The Air Force would coordinate with local employment agencies, housing and planning departments, and school districts to prepare for and plan for these changes.

Utilities and Infrastructure. The proposed siting of workforce hubs in the communities of Kimball, Nebraska, and Lewistown, Montana, would result in short-term significant adverse effects on local utilities and infrastructure during the years that workforce hubs are manned and occupied. To reduce impacts, the prime contractor is developing plans to make the workforce hubs self-supporting to reduce utilities and infrastructure impacts, where possible. The Air Force and prime contractor will continue to work together with the communities and local utility providers to mitigate these effects and reduce the impact on the communities.

Environmental Effects of the Reduced Utility Corridors Alternative

Under this alternative, significant adverse effects on cultural resources, public health and safety, socioeconomics, and utilities and infrastructure would still occur. There would be less overall potential to adversely affect sensitive cultural resources, biological resources, geology and soils, water resources, land use, traffic and transportation, and air quality due to less total ground disturbance.

EIS Timeline

  • Notice of Intent Published: November 20, 2020

  • Public Scoping Period: November 20, 2020 to January 4, 2021

  • Notice of Availability for Draft EIS: Published July 1, 2022

  • Draft EIS Public Comment Period: Comments are requested to be submitted or post-marked by August 15, 2022

  • Final EIS: Spring 2023

  • Record of Decision: Spring 2023