Sound Off: ‘Litigator-in-chief’s’ lawsuit hurts economy, defense

Our state’s lawsuit-happy attorney general must have run out of excuses for filing yet more actions directly against the president, because he has now set his sights on our little corner of this Washington. Apparently bowing to political pressure, he is targeting a major driver of our region’s economy, national defense and an integral part of our community, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

In a surprising act of transparency, one of his surrogates have come clean about their motivation. This lawsuit isn’t about protecting the environment as initially stated in a recent press conference, it’s about a political agenda to stop more flights at the air station.

For more than five decades, NAS Whidbey has been a welcomed neighbor on the western side of the island. It has proven to be a cornerstone of life on Whidbey, providing jobs and economic opportunity while bolstering our nation’s naval superiority in the Pacific and around the world. For many, the Navy is what brought them to Whidbey Island. I moved here 29 years ago and built a life in the shadow and earshot of the Intruders, Prowlers and Growlers that made and continue to make their presence known by what I like to call “the sound of freedom.”

I understand the sound of aircraft can be unsettling for some and the prospect of even more training flights could be a cause for concern. However, it is fair to say that no one relocates to the island without being fully aware that the Navy is here already – and most likely will be for the foreseeable future if world conditions remain as they are.

The problem with this latest lawsuit is the false pretext given by one of our state’s elected officials. To stop our men and women in uniform from continuing their much-needed training, he appealed to our emotions and the need to “protect the environment” when it was a purely political endeavor at the expense of us all.

The role of the attorney general is to protect the consumers of our state, and, by AG Ferguson’s own promises, veterans. How does hamstringing our region’s largest employer and the thousands of veterans who call Whidbey home accomplish that? Let alone the possible serious impacts this may have on national defense?

According to a most recent study, NAS Whidbey accounts for nearly 90 percent of all the economic activity on the island, and almost 70 percent of the county employment, but that may now be in jeopardy.

One must wonder where it will stop, and what contrived reasons will he use next. Will he sue Joint Base Lewis McChord? Is Naval Station Bangor next because of his political dislike of nuclear technology? Instead of doing his job, the attorney general has assumed the mantle of “Litigator-in-Chief’ while simultaneously jeopardizing military readiness and national security and undermining a valuable economic and community asset in our region.

I can’t speak for the other elected state officials, but AG Ferguson never attempted to discuss these concerns with me or see if there was any common ground on which we could pursue. It appears he gave in to the temptation of bolstering his profile rather than supporting the economic well-being of our communities and defensive preparedness of our nation.

State Sen. Barbara Bailey lives in Oak Harbor.