Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks Tuesday at an Economic Development Council of Island County meeting at Camp Casey Conference Center. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Attorney General Bob Ferguson speaks Tuesday at an Economic Development Council of Island County meeting at Camp Casey Conference Center. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

AG talks Navy Growlers, opioids during EDC meeting

The state’s top lawyer said Tuesday he and his team are “very much aware” of the Growler noise situation on Whidbey Island but had no announcements to make.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson addressed the controversial aircraft during an Economic Development Council of Island County meeting at Camp Casey.

During a question-and-answer portion, the recent decision to increase Navy training flights of EA-18G Growlers at Outlying Field Coupeville and its potential impact on Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve was mentioned.

Litigation regarding the decision is possible, he said, but only if he’s confident his office would have solid legal standing.

“We don’t just do that without a lot of thought,” he said.

Ferguson said he couldn’t provide much detail as to whether or not he’s considering action, but said it wouldn’t be unprecedented for his office to sue the Navy. In March, Ferguson filed a motion to join a 2017 lawsuit against the Navy for polluting Puget Sound water by scraping debris off a decommissioned aircraft carrier in Bremerton.

“If we think anyone, that includes the Navy, isn’t playing by the rules, we’re prepared to move forward,” he said.

He credited his thus-far successful record against the current presidential administration with the care he and his staff take in choosing cases. In the 35 lawsuits against the Trump Administration, there have been 22 decisions reached— all of which have been in his favor, he said.

Approximately half the cases have been related to the environment, he said, which he noted is a major focus for him. He has taken on issues such as fuel efficiency standards, coal leasing and oil drilling.

Some of these issues haven’t yet sparked formal action. His office sent a letter warning of a lawsuit if the administration didn’t walk back proposed plans to drill off Washington state’s shores, and so far, he said there hasn’t been any indication the drilling will go forward.

He also used the time Tuesday to discuss his ongoing litigation against opioid manufacturers and marketers. He’s working with other states in the effort to bring in money for treatment from those who pushed the addictive substances.

“I think it’s fair to say Washington state is on the front end of this,” Ferguson said.

Additionally, he talked about his team’s work to protect senior veterans who are targeted by scams. He said people in his office specialize in this vulnerable group and emphasized the importance of people reporting to his office if something doesn’t “seem right.”

Ferguson has been the state’s chief legal officer since 2012. Before his election, he served on the King County Council and practiced law at a large firm in Seattle.

The attorney general closed his remarks with a nod to Langley Mayor Tim Callison, saying he couldn’t wait to return to the island so he can make another visit to Sweet Mona’s Chocolates.

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