The Ohio National Guard said Friday that the federal government will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center.
The study will help determine whether the former Ravenna Arsenal could be a feasible location for an additional missile defense site in the continental United States.
"It is encouraging that Camp Ravenna is currently being considered for future Department of Defense missions," U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said in a written statement. "Designating Camp Ravenna as a missile defense site would create local jobs and strengthen the regional economy."
Last fall, Camp Ravenna and four other sites were named as areas that would house an undetermined number of U.S. missiles designed to intercept incoming enemy missiles. Cost estimates for such a facility range from $1 billion to $5 billion.
Three other sites were selected for completion of the environmental study: Fort Custer, Mich.; Fort Drum, N.Y;. and the Portsmouth Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Training Area, near Rangeley, Maine.
Camp Ethan Allan Training Site in Vermont was dropped from consideration, to the delight of U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.
"The ground-based interceptors being contemplated for an East Coast missile defense site cost huge sums of money, without delivering reliable capability," he said in a statement released by his office. "I welcome the news that Vermont's Camp Ethan Allen will not be considered as a site, and I continue to pursue redirecting those funds toward projects that have more proven and cost-effective success in keeping Americans safe."
The impact statement for Camp Ravenna is expected to take about two years to complete. It will assess potential environmental changes on land use, water resources, air quality, transportation, socioeconomics and other factors, the Ohio National Guard said.
Public involvement will be encouraged as part of the process and will include meetings, written comments and review of the draft and final documents.
The Department of Defense emphasized that there has been no decision to proceed with the construction of a new missile defense site, but to clear the first hurdle was good news for Ohio officials.
"We are pleased and proud to be among the finalists for the potential opportunity to serve the citizens of Ohio and the nation," said Maj. Gen. Deborah A. Ashenhurst, Ohio adjutant general. "Since Camp Ravenna was announced as a candidate several months ago, we have all realized the potential economic benefits to the state's northeast corridor. The Ohio National Guard has always been willing to do whatever the National Command Authority deems is important to the security of the nation."
The United States has two missile defense sites with long-range interceptor missiles active - in Alaska and California.
The former Ravenna Arsenal was used by the Army during World War II to manufacture bombs and projectiles, employing 18,000 people at its peak. The property became a National Guard training site in 1971 and currently is used to prepare troops for deployments and routine exercises.