A Make or Break Moment to Save the Olympic Peninsula
September 20, 2019, Port Angeles, WA. Washington State’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson initiated a lawsuit against the Navy in July for failing to adequately consider the effects that additional Growler jet flights would have on the people or wildlife on Whidbey Island. Now the Navy wants to negotiate a settlement of that lawsuit.
Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer is attempting to arrange a deal involving a payout of millions of dollars to Whidbey Island residents, without addressing the concerns we have for the environmental and economic impacts to the Olympic National Park and the Olympic Peninsula. You can view a report on this matter that was aired on KING 5 News here:
This is a critical moment in protecting the future environmental integrity of the Olympic Peninsula. Just as the Navy has violated the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act in relation to its activities over and around Whidbey Island, the Navy has violated those laws in relation to its activities over and around Olympic National Park and the Olympic Peninsula.
Throughout the required NEPA and ESA mandated studies the Navy has understated the noise that its Growler EA-18G jets produce, it has used flight patterns and flight altitudes designed to artificially reduce the actual impacts of its flights, it has assumed fewer numbers of flights than are occurring, and it has ignored the impacts of its jets on transit routes between Whidbey Island and across the Olympic Peninsula.
The impacts of the Navy’s jets on the transit routes are enormous. They overlie large areas of high altitude, critical habitat for the spotted owl and the marbled murrelet, and large areas of the most pristine and attractive areas of Olympic National Park.
The Navy has never addressed the Olympic Peninsula’s economic vulnerability from any angle. Our economy relies heavily on tourism associated with Olympic National Park, the World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, and the Olympic National Forest.
PLEASE WRITE ATTORNEY GENERAL FERGUSON AND GOVERNOR INSLEE and urge them to not settle with the Navy until Olympic National Park and the Olympic Peninsula are protected from the Navy’s activities, ask them to include us in any discussions with the Navy, and tell them that a financial settlement is not an acceptable solution for the Olympic Peninsula.
Please tell them the Navy should cease impacting the Olympic National Park (an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site), the Olympic National Forest, and the remainder of the Olympic Peninsula. This area should not be a training ground for military operations, especially when other and better training areas exist.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson
Office of the Attorney General
1125 Washington St SE
PO Box 40100
Olympia, WA 98504-0100
Assistant Attorney General Bill Sherman
Attorney General's Office
800 5th Ave Ste 2000
Seattle, WA 98104-3188
Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002
Growler Noise Study Debunked
June 20, 2016, Port Angeles, WA. U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer recently announced that he has secured a $2 million amendment to the 2017 Department of Defense’s $582.7 billion Appropriations Bill for "research that would help lower engine noise on Super Hornets and Growler aircraft that are used in current military operations."
Save The Olympic Peninsula questions this action as it is not only a very weak eﬀort, it is simply not a good idea. Any sound improvement that could have been accomplished for that amount of money would have been achieved long ago.
In addition, the Navy has already spent millions of dollars on a study and has taken the position that any measures to reduce sound would reduce efficiency, speed, and probably combat capabilities. As noted in the Navy’s own “Final Jet Engine Noise Report”, published in 2009, "Increased engine performance is derived from higher cycle temperatures and pressures, which produces higher jet velocities resulting in increased noise.”
“The American public is smart enough to know that yet another study of an aircraft that costs us $68 million per machine is just a ruse in an election year,” said Dr. Beverly Goldie, President of Save The Olympic Peninsula.
STOP has long maintained that the jet noise impacting our forests and residential neighborhoods would be alleviated if the Navy’s attack jet training took place at the military training facility in Mountain Home Idaho, rather than on the Olympic Peninsula.
It's Time for Our Politicians to Wake Up
May 10, 2016, Port Angeles, WA. The recently released 2015 National Park visitation statistics are bad news for Olympic National Park and the Olympic Peninsula’s most important tourism industry. With almost perfect weather during the 2015 visitor season, and with a booming Puget Sound economy, there can be little doubt of what contributed to these dismal figures. Most probably they can be traced to the adverse impact of the Navy’s present and planned use of the Park’s airspace for electronic warfare training with the noisiest jet in its fleet, the EA-18G Growler.
Olympic dropped from being the sixth most visited National Park in 2014 to being the seventh most visited National Park in 2015. Its visitor count increased by only 19,889, or 0.6 percent, from 3,243,872 to 3,263,761. (Click here to see the comparisons.) In both absolute numbers and percentages, these were the worst statistics among the top ten most visited National Parks from 2014. Percentage wise, Rocky Mountain National Park’s 21 percent increase was best. Number wise, Grand Canyon National Park’s increase of 763,965 visitors (16%) was best.
In this interconnected world, the news that Olympic is the site of electronic warfare training with the loudest jets in the military emitting harmful electromagnetic radiation has spread far and wide. Web sites dedicated to hikers, backpackers, birdwatchers, and nature lovers have warned their readers of what’s happening to Olympic. Gordon Hempton of One Square Inch of Silence fame, and Mountain Man Mick Dodge have justifiably warned their followers of the grave danger the Navy’s activities pose to the wilderness experience that Olympic National Park should be. The United Nations has expressed concern that the United States is not living up to its obligations under the World Heritage Convention to protect the Park as a World Heritage Site.
That both sound and electromagnetic radiation can impair the attractiveness of National Parks is well known. The National Park Service’s Directors Order #47, Soundscape Preservation and Noise Management, states:
Intrusive sounds are also a matter of concern to park visitors. As was reported to the U.S. Congress in the "Report on the Effects of Aircraft Overflights on the National Park System," a system-wide survey of park visitors revealed that nearly as many visitors come to national parks to enjoy the natural soundscape (91 percent) as come to view the scenery (93 percent).
The public’s fear of electromagnetic radiation, whether it be from x-ray machines, power lines, smart meters, cell phones, or whatever source, whether real or imagined, is so well known as to be a matter of common knowledge.
It is time to recognize the early warning signs that these visitation figures provide. With the Olympic Peninsula’s economy so dependent on the National Park, it is past the time for our elected representatives, on the basis of economics alone, to demand an end to the Navy’s misuse of the Olympic Peninsula for its electronic warfare training purposes.