The Navy’s intention to increase Growler pilot training four-fold in Central Whidbey raises many red flags. Whatever your politics, whatever your relationship with our armed forces, please consider:
1. It’s against military policy to station all crucial defense assets on one base, yet they are sending the entire Growler fleet to Whidbey. We become a bull’s eye for any enemy crazy enough to attack our country. Even if the military has another fleet of Growlers hidden elsewhere, we are still a prime target.
2. Coupeville area is our bread basket. Farmers cannot be in the fields during flights. Can we afford to lose our farmers? Also, jets do not burn clean. Usually the toxic by-products disperse in the atmosphere but Growlers fly low. What toxic particulates are falling on our farmland?
3. With 80,000 flights per year, we will have to establish an APZ – accident potential zone. Big name for the fact that these jets do crash, so our homes and our lives are at four times the risk. We will be asked to change zoning to prevent development in the APZ. People will be encouraged to leave their homes. Property values will plummet, meaning property taxes will fall, putting the burden on the rest of Island County residents to support local services.
4. The potential for crashes increases the potential for use of toxic fire fighting foam. While industries and local fire stations are required by law to eliminate these, the Navy is exempt and still has a stockpile. New studies reveal safe levels of these toxins is a tenth of the current EPA standard. Coupeville water is already above the new limits.
5. The tonnage of CO2 pollution from a four fold increase in Coupeville flights plus flights from Ault Field puts the Navy among the top 10 CO2 polluters in our green-leaning state.
Growlers can train elsewhere, but there’s no other Whidbey Island.