Submitted by Oak Harbor Navy League.
The Aug. 2 procedural order by the United States District Court does not meet activists’ goals after millions of dollars, years of studies, and extended due diligence by the Navy, followed by years of litigation and expense by plaintiffs and defendants. The bulk of the wide-ranging, disparate claims against Growlers were dismissed.
• In some respects, this order is at extreme cross purposes. The Navy must now consider an outdated El Centro, CA alternative for Growler operations 1,400 miles away, while simultaneously opening the door to newly formulated Greenhouse Gas complaints. (Clarifying GHG calculations regarding operations above 3,000 ft, for FCLP operations which occur below 2,000 ft.) An El Centro, CA alternative may require a more extensive EIS than that conducted at Whidbey.
• Overt representatives for local schools were not parties to these proceedings. However, the Navy will expend considerable time and resources assessing indeterminate effects on classroom learning due to jet noise. Whidbey schools are award-winning and nationally ranked, benefiting greatly from the Navy’s economic impact and ever-present Navy volunteers. Note: jets arrived in 1956. Twice as many tactical jets have been previously based at Whidbey (216 vs 118). Plus, many areas have been zoned for jet noise since 1992.
• This order also desires apparent never-ending species-specific Growler impacts to birds. The Navy included exhaustive studies by expert organizations, which followed accepted science. The National Environmental Policy Act was never intended to present endless litigation opportunities. With many partners, the Navy is already the most meaningful and prolific marine conservancy organization in the Pacific Northwest. Since World War II, NAS Whidbey Island aircraft and personnel have been worldwide and world-class. Whidbey aircraft are currently performing defense and deterrence missions in every geographic area of uncertainty. They are extraordinarily relevant and indispensable.
• In example, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the European Commander asked for Tankers, F35s, and Growlers. Whidbey Growlers responded almost overnight. Growlers are similarly positioned in Asia supporting national policy and national leaders.
• By extension, the region’s representative training areas, and especially OLF Coupeville are very rare national assets. They have never been more important, now and going forward. With the increasingly dynamic real-world environment, our country should not compromise or cap Whidbey’s air station and OLF capabilities as part of any remedies or appeals to this procedural order. These capabilities are fundamental components for essential national defense and global deterrence.
Since 1902, the Navy League of the United States is a nonpartisan, worldwide organization, dedicated to informing the American people about the importance of Sea Services and STEM to our national defense and economic prosperity.