It’s bad news for this community and our region that the Navy League is not interested in facts or science or real solutions to a community polarized by noise and an unsustainable decision made by military leaders in Washington, D.C. Jingoist rhetoric and a pep-club mentality just don’t cut it when noise, health and science are the focus. They need to get their facts straight.
• No local groups have anything against the commander of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island or any of the people under his command. No group has ever called for closing the base in Oak Harbor. This is a Navy League myth. The Growler is the issue, compounded by the number of jets, the number of flights and the locations of the training. Putting all EA18G-Growlers here and 80 percent of the FCLP’s over Central Whidbey was a one-sided military decision that ignored community comments and justifiable concerns.
• An injunction based on health was not granted in Seattle’s federal court in 2013 to stop the jet from flying, but that does not mean that there is not scientific evidence that noise causes harm. The judge didn’t stop the flights but limited their number to 6120 at the OLF until the EIS was completed. That ruling held for six years. Helen Price Johnson in the June 29 Coupeville “coffee” with Rick Larsen urged him to secure monies to conduct a valid health impact study. This demonstrates that she, the Washington State Department of Public Health and others disagree with the Navy League’s assurances that there are no problems due to jet noise.
• The only economic study that has been done on the jet expansion’s impact was by economist Michael Shuman for Whidbey’s Sustainable Economy Collaborative. All other reports are only job reports. Altogether, over the period 2010 and 2021, these invisible costs to Island County will be about $122 million. While the Navy understandably wants to discount or dismiss these costs, state and local decision-makers need to give them serious consideration.
• Communities, schools, hospitals, agricultural fields, retired people can’t move. Jets move — that’s what they do. The Navy has alternative choices it could make. Finally, the Navy League wants us to appreciate all the good things the Navy has done – and we do. This just doesn’t mean that we should let them off the hook for doing a lot of harmful things. It doesn’t give them a pass on their recent unsustainable decisions that are degrading our community and people’s lives.
It is up to us, the people who pay the military’s bills, to return to our American principles of justice, equality,and values — and a balance we can live with. That’s the American way.
COER Board of Directors