VA hires Nebraska company to do Hot Springs EIS

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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has chosen a Nebraska contractor for the environmental impact statement on the proposal to close the agency's Hot Springs Health Care Center.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki says Labat Environmental of Bellevue will do the work...expected to take up to 18-months to complete.

Labat's analysis will study potential environmental, cultural, historic, social and economic effects of the plan to replace the Hot Springs center with an outpatient clinic, increased regional contracting with health care providers, and construction of a new treatment facility in Rapid City

The VA says its plan to close the century-old Hot Springs center and mothball its National Historic Landmark buildings is much less expensive than upgrading it...$148-million over 30 years compared to $248-million.

The Save the VA group sharply disagrees with the VA numbers and has offered an upgrade proposal it says would cost $49-million less than the VA plan...$144-million versus $193-million. The Save the VA plan has strong support from veterans around the region and South Dakota's congressional delegation.

In December, Congress stripped $10-million dollars in planning money for the proposed Rapid City treatment facility from the Defense Department appropriations bill, the only request by the VA that did not get included in the bill.

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