Westfield air base on agenda for Gov. Baker, Secretary Kendall

  • Members of the 104th Fighter Wing form an honor guard during a memorial service at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield. COURTESY BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE

State House News Service
Published: 6/23/2022 2:47:30 PM
Modified: 6/23/2022 2:47:11 PM

Gov. Charlie Baker is headed to the nation’s capital Thursday for a meeting with Air Force brass and U.S. Rep. Richard Neal as Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield awaits word on whether it will host the newest F-35 fighter jets.

The governor’s office said Baker was heading to Washington, D.C., to meet with Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, Neal and other members of the Congressional delegation about Barnes. He is expected to return to Massachusetts on Thursday night.

The Air Force has evaluated the Westfield base as a potential home for the new generation of F-35A Lightning II fighter jets, which would be a boon to the state’s six military installations that together are responsible for about $13 billion in annual economic activity and account for about 57,000 jobs. Baker’s administration has pitched his military family occupational licensing bill as a way to signal the Bay State’s commitment to the military and its members.

John Beatty, executive director of the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force that has been working for a decade to stay on top of the possibility of a base realignment and closure effort, told lawmakers last year that “there’s already a lot of ruminations about an FY23 and FY24 defense budget that’s going to be painful for the Army and for the Air Force. We don’t want to be at the wrong end of those decisions.”

Baker’s office said a stop at the White House is not part of the governor’s itinerary. But the White House announced Thursday morning that Baker is one of 11 East Coast governors who is part of a new Federal-State Offshore Wind Implementation Partnership meant to turbocharge the offshore wind industry in the United States.

The group’s initial focus is going to be on supply chain issues and it plans to agree to “commitments to solidify and expand the domestic manufacturing capacity, logistics networks, and workforce development” at a White House event Thursday. The White House announcement did not say which governors would be in attendance. The other states represented by their governor in the partnership are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

“More opportunities are ahead, including an estimated $109 billion revenue opportunity across the offshore wind supply chain this decade, and East Coast Governors are laying the groundwork to seize them,” the White House wrote in a fact sheet announcing the partnership. “Having already set commitments to procure nearly 40 GW of offshore wind, these states are providing a strong demand signal for clean energy that will lower energy costs for American families while protecting them from volatile fossil fuel price spikes. Collaboration between state and federal governments already is helping to create good-paying jobs and establish a durable domestic supply chain to facilitate the responsible development of America’s world-class offshore wind resource.”

Massachusetts has already authorized procuring 5,600 MW of offshore wind power, and two projects already in development would total about 1,600 MW. Another two projects in the contract approval phase would add another roughly 1,600 MW of offshore wind power to the state’s portfolio by the end of the decade.


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