Letter: State AG’s lawsuit about activism, not science

Editor,

The Whidbey community should be quite cynical concerning the Washington Attorney General and activist lawsuits against the Navy. A strong and sincere case, intended to genuinely hold the Navy to account, would have included scientists, doctors and other experts in a press conference. Instead, only committed activists joined the AG.

Allegations that the Navy broke the law or holds itself above the law are activist counterfactual narrative.

The Navy spent six years performing comprehensive studies, hosting numerous public outreach meetings and conducting extended comment periods. Recognizing regional sensibilities, the Navy possibly expends more EIS effort and expense in the PNW than anywhere in the nation. They strive to thoroughly comply with the spirit and intent of NEPA.

Activist press conference comments did not appeal to high-minded environmentalism or explicit health hazards. They expressed their long-standing goal to move Growlers from the Pacific Northwest. In this case, they wished Growlers to move from Whidbey and Ebey’s Reserve to an area associated with three national parks, two wilderness areas and a national preserve.

In other publications, activists seek to diminish the Navy’s perceived value to our community. Using a bit of circular reasoning, they universally reference their own activist-funded economic report which supposedly shows that Island County citizens subsidize the Navy. FOI emails from the Town of Coupeville substantiates individual activist fundraising efforts.

Objective economic figures from numerous sources show the air station is the equivalent of a very robust Fortune 500 company. This impact is not remotely fungible with any valid economic alternative which has been proposed for Island County during the last several decades.

The pretense of “for the troops and against the noise” is largely being dropped. They are earnestly calling for the Navy and their families to move to the remotest regions of our country. They are all-in on these lawsuits.

Our Navy is also called a bad neighbor when they have been the best of neighbors in every respect. By extension, elected and community leaders who support the Navy are called upon to resign or be retired.

Even the attorney general’s response to our mayor should be treated with skepticism. He cites a Washington State noise report. The report is eight pages, plus six pages of general footnotes attempts to link “similar noise” to Growlers. It admits to a “paucity of research,” plus observes that personal outcomes result from “subjective discomfort.”

The Growler engine began serial production in 1998. These engines have millions of flight hours. There is copious data. There are no health clusters anywhere for this engine or any other engine, apart from personal disposition.

Attorney General Ferguson boasts he has the state’s largest law firm and says “the filing of this lawsuit is the beginning of a long process.” A previous activist lawsuit took two years to litigate.

In other words, we can expect years and years of disparaging publicity and antagonism which is at odds with the superlative character of our Navy and our community.

Since 1902, the Navy League of the United States is a nonpartisan, worldwide organization, dedicated to informing the American people about the importance of Sea Services to our national defense and economic prosperity.

Steve Bristow, spokesman

Oak Harbor Navy League

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