As I continue my mini-break, I’m using today’s post to celebrate some good news close to home. Earlier this month, Federal Magistrate J. Richard Creatura determined that the U.S. Navy’s 2019 decision authorizing the EA-18G “Growler” expansion at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The judge’s decision came in response to lawsuits filed by the Washington State Attorney General and Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve (COER). They argued the Navy “violated the National Environmental Policy Act by not adequately analyzing the impacts an increased number of the Navy aircraft would have on the environment and the community.”
Whidbey Island is not far from the south end of Lopez Island, and the noise from “Growler” practices there reaches my home, and others in the San Juan Islands, on a regular basis. That’s why residents here formed Quiet Skies Over San Juan County. You can read their account about the magistrate’s decision here.
Peninsula Daily News reported the decision, too, and it’s worth the read. Here are some choice excerpts from the news story:
The Navy did this at the expense of the public and the environment, turning a blind eye to data that would not support this intended result,” [Creatura] wrote. Or, to borrow the words of noted sports analyst Vin Scully, the Navy appears to have used certain statistics “much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.”
Attorney General Bob Ferguson sent the Whidbey News-Times a comment about the decision also.
“The Navy has an important job, and it’s critical that their pilots and crews have the opportunity to train,” he wrote. “That does not relieve the federal government of its obligation to follow the law and take a hard look at any harm to child learning and natural resources. Today the magistrate judge recognized that the Navy fell far short of its obligation.”
There’s much more to write about the Growlers’ threat to the environment, and I plan to do that in the coming year. If you’re not familiar with the issue, this video offers a good overview.
I’ll be watching how the Navy responds (the deadline for their reaction to the magistrate’s opinion is coming up) and what happens as a result of his requirement for an analysis of other locations for the Growlers.