Letters to the Editor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR | Anti-OLF group won’t quit

Editor,

The Navy has announced it will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, on the addition of yet more new planes at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, as well as “baseline operations at NASWI and OLF Coupeville.”

The key words are “baseline operation.” Very clearly, as those words pertain to our federal suit, they do not include EA-18Gs at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, or NASWI. The Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve’s, or COER’s, suit addresses the impacts of the decision to bring the Growlers to NASWI in the first instance, the subject of the seriously flawed 2005 Environmental Assessment. Our position very clearly is that “baseline operations” do not include the operation of the Growlers at NASWI.

A bit of history is helpful. In 2005, the Navy proposed stationing the Growlers at NASWI. They prepared a fraudulent environmental assessment, the 2005 Environmental Assessment, claiming the jets at Outlying Field would be less loud than the EA-6Bs they were replacing and they would be flying fewer operations at Outlying Field, or OLF, both blatant misrepresentations.

We all know now that the Growlers are louder and that flight operations steadily increased at OLF until they were up over 300 percent in 2012 and well on their way to even a larger number of operations in 2013 until we filed the federal suit and they shut down for the remainder of 2013.

Using their fraudulent 2005 assessment, the Navy claimed there were no impacts from the transition to the Growlers and made the decision to base them at NASWI. This environmental assessment and decision is what we challenge now in Federal Court. The Navy is trying to bootstrap the Growlers into “baseline operations,” as if their existence at NASWI is a foregone conclusion and part of the status quo. Wrong. Our suit challenges the flawed assessment and the decision to bring the Growlers to NASWI in the first instance.

While the notice of intent to do an environmental impact statement has been filed by the Navy, the process is just beginning. The scoping of the EIS is the next big round of activity and we are very well poised and prepared to weigh into that process in a big way with our capable attorneys and expert witnesses.

We will be insisting that the Navy go back to that much earlier decision in 2005 to bring the Growlers to NASWI. We will not be dismissing our lawsuit until the Navy complies with the law in every detail.

COER will also be seeking injunctive relief to prevent any use of OLF until a full disclosure is made in the EIS of all impacts upon humans, animals, the environment, the Ebey’s Reserve, property values, etc. with a scientifically and truthfully researched EIS under the watchful eyes of the courts and COER.

KEN PICKARD,

chairman

COER

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