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ORANGE COUNTY, CA-The proposed El Toro airport-conversion project has moved one step closer to lift off, with the board of supervisors approving the project’s environmental impact report.

Yesterday’s 3-2 vote in favor of the EIR is a crucial step for the proposed airport-conversion. Now that it has been approved, the federal government can turn over much of the former El Toro Marine Base to the county for the purpose of building the airport.

Yesterday’s board meeting, which drew more than 200 people, was the third time that the supervisors had been scheduled to vote on the EIR. In September, pro-airport supervisor Jim Silva called for a public vote on the El Toro conversion, which delayed the EIR vote until this month. An Oct. 16th vote also was held off, a delay to allow citizens review and input on some new documents that had surfaced in recent weeks.

Plans can now move forward for the construction of El Toro airport, which would serve more than 18 million passengers annually. The new airport is expected to create thousands of new jobs and millions in annual tax revenue. It would also alleviate congestion at Irvine’s John Wayne International Airport and ease the passenger flow at LA International Airport, which served approximately 67 million travelers last year.

Opponents of the El Toro plan say the conversion would cause massive air pollution and noise problems. They have vowed to fight the EIR approval in court, saying they will sue the county.

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