Governor fights expansion of bomber training zone

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) is asking the Obama administration to abandon plans to establish a bomber training area over his state.

Bullock sent a letter Monday to Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelGOP Senate candidate said Republicans have 'dual loyalties' to Israel White House aide moves to lobbying firm Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces MORE and Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony Renard FoxxBig Dem names show little interest in Senate Lyft sues New York over new driver minimum pay law Lyft confidentially files for IPO MORE urging them to scuttle a proposal to expand the South Dakota-based Powder River Training Complex, The Associated Press reported.

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An Air Force decision on the expansion could come before the start of 2015. If approved, it would quadruple the training area for the Powder River’s B-1 bombers to include parts of Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas.

South Dakota Sens. Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonTrump faces tough path to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac overhaul Several hurt when truck runs into minimum wage protesters in Michigan Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation MORE (D) and John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Pompeo condemns Iran for 'act of war' while Trump moves with caution Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet NRA says Trump administration memo a 'non-starter' MORE (R) have endorsed the expansion, arguing that it would provide pilots and other personnel the airspace needed to carry out training in conditions that mirror combat without actually firing ammunition.

While Johnson is retiring, Thune is well-placed to make sure the expansion goes through. In addition to being the head of the Senate Republican Conference, Thune is likely the incoming chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.

Bullock said that if the Powder River expansion goes forward, military and federal aviation officials should amend their proposal to include more measures to protect civilian aircraft.