The federal government wants to hear what Whidbey residents think about noise from Navy aircraft.
An agency called the Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation was charged, under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, with working with communities to find measures that would mitigate noise caused by defense fixed wing aviation activities, such as EA-18G Growler flights, according to a notice on the Federal Register.
The first step the agency is taking toward creating a community noise mitigation program is to gather input from people living near the installations. Both Oak Harbor and Coupeville are identified in the Federal Register as a potentially affected jurisdiction due to the presence of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s Ault Field Base and Outlying Field Coupeville.
A web portal, https://forms.office.com/g/3pp0UCdArk, was designed to receive this feedback from these jurisdictions over a 45-day period ending Oct. 4.
The agency identified 205 military installations with “covered facilities” (hospitals, daycare facilities, schools, facilities serving senior citizens and private homes) that are located within one mile or a day-night average sound level of 65 decibel or greater of a military installation or another location at which military fixed wing aircraft are stationed.
The notice in the Federal Register states that Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation will work with Service Secretaries to find possible mitigation measures. Special attention will be paid to communities with new airframes.
Strong community protests, especially in Coupeville, have accompanied an expansion of the number of EA-18G Growler aircraft at the base. A federal lawsuit brought by the state Attorney General’s Office and a Coupeville anti-noise group over an environmental assessment of the impact of the aircraft is pending.
The feedback will be used to help “define parameters for a responsive and competitive noise mitigation program, including eligible activities, and publish a Federal Funding Opportunity Forecast for public comments later this year,” the notice states.