Give citizens a voice in military expansion in the Salish Sea
Governor Inslee and Congresspeople,
The Pacific Northwest has one of the most beautiful and serene landscapes in the United States, yet we are experiencing significant degradation of our resources, lands and waters by government agencies granting the Navy the unlawful right to pollute our waters, harm wildlife and destroy our environment with excessive noise from Growler jet pilot training.
Ordinary people in Island, San Juan and Jefferson Counties need a voice - and need your help in having our voice count.
Authorities silence citizens with marginalization (NIMBYs) and shame (“Sound of Freedom”). We honor the protection our military provides for our nation, yet we also have a right to preserve our culture, health, soundscape, and water – and must therefore insist the Navy use its own military reserves or simulators, not the Salish Sea, for pilot training.
We ask you to appoint a multi-stakeholder commission with the power to negotiate, on a level playing field, binding agreements between citizens, tribes, government and the military.
As you know, the Navy plans to add 35-36 new Growler jets to the fleet at the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island and increase personnel by several thousand. Required to produce an Environmental Impact Statement, they published one which, despite many harms listed (and some not listed), has given itself a green light as though the statement itself is authorization. Citizens have 75 days to comment, but no power to challenge the EIS.
Here are some of the key points we’re challenging:
1. The Navy’s calculation of decibels: The Navy uses a computer simulation to determine the average daily decibel level (which includes non-flight time), and then spreads that over the year. They don’t measure the actual noise generated on training days. Their finding: 90 dBA. The National Park Service, in a federally funded study, measured actual dBA as high as 117 dBA. We believe the Navy has minimized the impact of actual flights over our homes and land.
2. Hearing Loss: Even using their measurements, the Navy states that between 1,658 and 1,803 residents potentially risk hearing loss, directly due to aircraft noise exposure.
3. Pitting Oak Harbor against Coupeville: All the scenarios in the EIS assume an increase in Growler training, giving citizens the options of maximum disruption to either Oak Harbor or Coupeville. The report presents no option of no harm to any of our citizens.
4. Frequency: Flight operations will increase from 6100 to 35,100, a 475% increase.
5. Impact on farms: 1183 additional agricultural acres, many of which raise livestock, will be significantly affected by sound levels
6. Impact on citizens and animals: 2243 additional residential acres will be significantly affected by excessive sound levels
7. Potential Crashes: Three “Accident Potential Zones” (where crashes may occur) extend up to 5,000 feet from ends of the Outlying Field plus a 3,000-foot wide track located 1500 feet on either side of fields used for carrier landing practice, threatening hundreds of households with potential crashes and significant loss of property values, giving residents a choice between harm to their health or finances.
8. Toxins: The Navy’s use of two perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), both of which are used by the DoD for aviation fire suppression, may have entered the single north island aquifer, making our water unsafe to drink or to use for irrigation. Wells are being tested now. One has already tested 5 times the EPA safe limits. With 475% increase in flights, we are concerned about an increase in toxicity. As the Sioux say, water is life and we can’t afford to lose our drinking water in our farmland or the historic city of Coupeville.
9. Parks: Noise impacting area Parks (town, state, federal) will increase by 91%;
10. Economy: With nearly 200 flight operations per day around Coupeville, our fragile, essential local economy will be threatened, including tourism, hospital quality of operation, small businesses and agriculture.
11. Our Heritage: Coupeville is the second oldest city in Washington State. It is the County Seat. It is part of the unique Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve established by Congress in 1978 as the first and one of only two National Historical Reserves in the nation.
As our Governor and our Congresspeople, you are the voice of Washington citizens in our consultations with the US Military and with corporations. Without your intervention we are left with no power to alter the Navy’s course with regards to our land, water and air and our generations of building history, culture, homes and communities.
Governor, you ran as an environmental candidate. Our environment is threatened by the proposed massive build-up of military activity in our region. We need your help. Without our elected officials by our side, we are being prevented from exercising our rights in this matter.
We request that you form a multi-stakeholder commission including tribes, citizens, government and the military to negotiate binding agreements that will assure we can protect our nation while preserving the very way of life our military is supposed to defend.
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