By MEGAN HANSEN
Whidbey Examiner Editor
September 4, 2013 · Updated 4:05 PM
A Navy aircraft practices at Outlying Field. / File photo
The Department of Defense is scheduled to release a notice of intent tomorrow saying it will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for EA-18G Growler Airfield Operations at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.
This includes operations at the base on North Whidbey and Outlying Field in Coupeville.
The notice of intent is in response to a federal lawsuit filed July 15 for Citizens of the Ebey's Reserve for a Healthy, Safe and Peaceful Environment, according to representatives of the group.
The study will evaluate environmental effects associated with the introduction of two additional Growler expeditionary squadrons and three Growler aircraft to the Fleet Replacement Squadron. It will look at aircraft operations, facility construction and personnel changes.
“Members of COER are of course ecstatic that the Navy has finally conceded that a complete environmental analysis is necessary,” said David Mann, the Seattle-based attorney for the Citizens organization. “It is unfortunate that it required that we file federal litigation to get the Navy’s attention, but we are pleased that we provided the necessary catalyst for action."
"Finally, the Navy will take a hard-look at the environmental and health impacts of its flight operations at OLF Coupeville on both surrounding neighbors and the natural environment of Ebey’s Reserve.”
Three open houses are scheduled as follows: 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3 at Coupeville High School; 4-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4 at Oak Harbor High School and 4-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5 at Anacortes Middle School.
The open houses will offer information stations staffed by Department of the Navy representatives.
"The scoping process will be used to identify community concerns and local issues to be addressed in the EIS," the notice states. "Federal agencies, state agencies, local agencies, Native American Indian Tribes and Nations, the public and interested persons are encouraged to provide comments to the DoN to identify specific issues or topics of environmental concern that the commenter believes the DoN should consider."
In its notice of intent, the Department of the Navy said environmental analyses were completed in 2005 and 2012 when the base was looking at replacing the EA-6B Prowler with the new Growler.
"The 2005 Environmental Assessment evaluated the environmental consequences of transitioning fleet squadrons and the FRS (Fleet Replacement Squadron) from the EA-6B to the EA-18G aircraft," the notice states.
"The 2012 EA evaluated the environmental consequences of retaining and transitioning the three expeditionary squadrons currently home based at NAS Whidbey Island from EA-6B to EA-18G aircraft and the relocation of a reserve expeditionary squadron from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland."
According to the notice, the Navy is looking at continuing and increasing the existing airfield, adding two new expeditionary VAQ squadrons and replacement squadrons. It also intends on looking at constructing and renovating facilities at Ault Field over a three-year period and station an additional 860 personnel and their families.
"…this EIS will assess the potential environmental effects of action alternative to be developed by DoN (Department of the Navy) for different operational scenarios," the notice states.
To read the complete notice of intent go to