Submitted by Senator Maria Cantwell’s office
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (D, WA-02) announced that their amendment to provide for real-time noise monitoring at two West Coast Navy installations will be included in the final compromise of the National Defense Authorization Act on Dec. 11. The legislation is expected to be considered by both houses of Congress this month.
“Noise from Growler training has caused much concern in local communities,” Cantwell said. “Publicly available real-time monitoring of Whidbey Island and the Olympic National Park will provide transparency and a basis for an accurate discussion on the impacts of the increased flight activity between the Navy, the state, and the communities involved. I’m pleased to see this provision included in the final defense package, and I encourage Congress to support its passage.”
This March, the U.S. Navy announced the addition of 36 Growler aircraft to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, increasing annual airfield activity by up to 33 percent. The Cantwell-Larsen provision in the NDAA compromise requires real-time monitoring of noise at two West Coast Navy installations. This includes field carrier landing practice at Naval Outlying Field Coupeville and Ault Field, which now see about 112,100 Growler operations annually.
The legislation authorizes $1 million to perform the noise monitoring and requires the Secretary of Defense to provide for real-time monitoring of noise from flights at the installations. It also requires the results to be made publicly available on a Department of Defense website.
“On June 12, the House Armed Services Committee adopted my provision to require real-time noise monitoring at three Naval Air Stations and three Air Force bases because the challenge we face with jet noise on Whidbey Island is a challenge shared by other communities,” said Larsen, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. “As a member of the conference committee responsible for shepherding this provision to final passage, I am happy the final bill includes real-time noise monitoring language to require the Navy to mitigate the effects of military aircraft noise on private residences, schools and hospitals. This provision will ensure aircrews can get vital training while better understanding and reducing the impact of operations surrounding communities. Thank you to Chair Smith and Senator Cantwell for working with me to include my priorities in the final version of the NDAA.”
It also requires the Secretary of Defense to work with the Director of the National Park Service and the Chief of the Forest Service to come up with a plan within six months for real-time noise monitoring above or adjacent to nearby public lands, including Olympic National Park, Olympic National Forest, and Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.
In June of this year, the Senate passed Senator Cantwell’s amendment as part of its NDAA bill. Since then, the legislation has been in a conference committee to be reconciled with the version passed by the House. Today’s announcement means the compromise FY 2020 NDAA bill, including the noise monitoring provision, will advance to final consideration in both houses of Congress.