Region rallies against Growler growth

  • Mon Oct 15th, 2018 1:48pm
  • Life

Submitted by Quiet Skies Over San Juan County

Crowds of all ages came together at four different locations in Northwest Washington to send a message to the Department of Defense in Washington D.C.: No new jets, no new flights.

Approximately 700 people at four events – 500 in Coupeville, and approximately 75 at each venue for Port Townsend, Lopez Island and Anacortes – came to send a message loud and clear to their elected officials and the Navy – we hear you. Do you hear us? Postcards were written and social media was engaged to send messages to elected officials in Washington D.C.

The Department of Defense released its Final Environmental Impact Statement on Friday, Sept. 28, proposing massive increases in Growler jets at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in geographic impact and operational activities across Puget Sound. In response, community rallies across Puget Sound attracted enthusiastic crowds to send a message to their elected officials, who have only the next 24-days to comment and to influence the DOD.

Rep. Rick Larsen and Gov. Jay Inslee have a limited window in which to influence this decision. According to Maryon Attwood, chairperson of the Sound Defense Alliance, “The Department of Defense is trying to convince the public that this final preferred plan is a reduction, not an expansion. … They are trying to hide the fact that their proposal is all about huge increases: 36 more jets, increased operations at Ault Field, major increases at Outlying field in Coupeville (four times more) and increased geographic noise and pollution encroachment over regions of the Pacific Northwest that have not been previously impacted.”

Never before has the Navy been allowed to fly more than 50 percent of their Field Carrier Landing practices at the OLF in Coupeville. Now they propose to increase FCLPs by 80 percent over Coupeville (from 6,100 to 24,000 operations) threatening Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve and Central Whidbey’s schools, gathering centers and the county hospital.

The Sound Defense Alliance is a new voice in Washington of more than 12 organizations across the region with memberships total about 25,000 strong and growing, working to protect our communities and natural environment from increasing and harmful impacts of expanded military activity around Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula.

“There are alternatives,” Attwood said, “and we are more than willing to work with the DOD and elected officials to find better solutions to decrease the jet noise. The Navy could, for example, be dual-siting its Growler jets. Alternatives and national air security needs could be met at alternative military fields by moving some of these jets elsewhere; or they could continue to use other Naval airfields closer to deployment and maintenance areas, as they do now. Instead, the DOD has approved basing all of the Navy’s jet-based electronic warfare assets on Whidbey Island. Single siting Growlers on Whidbey Island is a risk to national security and operational readiness. This EIS did not even look at other sites.”

For more information about the Sound Defense Alliance and Quiet Skies Over San Juan County at sounddefensealliance.org, https://facebook.com/SoundDefenseAlliance, quietskies.info, https://facebook.com/quietskiesoversanjuancounty/.