“Growler” Draft Environmental Impact Statement: The Emperor Has No Clothes Deadline for comments on Jan. 25

–from Chom Greacen, Member, Quiet Skies over San Juan County–

The Navy plans to add 36 EA-18G “Growler” fighter jets and roughly double the number of Growler flight operations out of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station. The only thing standing in its way is completion of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process as per the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

In the Federal EIS process there are two paths to making a decision. A non-federal entity seeking a permit works with a permitting agency (e.g. Army Corps of Engineers) who gathers public input and makes a final decision. In the second approach, for example, the Growler additions, the Navy manages the process for themself. The draft EIS is prepared by the Navy, for the Navy and is approved by the Navy.The only way to hold the Navy accountable to relevant laws, including NEPA, is through citizen participation and, as a last resort, litigation.

The Navy has produced a Draft EIS (DEIS), so now the onus is on us to point out if and how the DEIS fails to comply with the law. [Editor’s note — See orcasissues.com/navy-agrees-extend-environmental-impact-study-public-comment-period/]

The over-1,400 page DEIS is intimidating, and the Navy appears to act like a royalty. But in reality, the Emperor may have no clothes.

Take for example the flawed noise assessment of the DEIS.

Growler noise impacts are the number one controversy and concern, and so the quality of the noise analysis is at the heart of the DEIS. Unfortunately, this heart has serious flaws which renders much of the remaining report scientifically questionable.

First, the Navy chose to simulate noise levels with a computer model instead of conducting actual noise measurements in the region. But the computer model used is so outdated that a Department of Defense report found that new software was needed to provide “scientifically and legally defensible noise assessments” of the modern, high-thrust jet engines used in the Growlers. New, improved software is available, but the DEIS did not use it. In addition, no attempt was made to benchmark the model with actual measurements. Why not?

Second, even if the noise computer model was scientifically sound, the quality of data used as inputs is still questionable. Despite the document’s excessive length, the DEIS failed to provide pertinent details regarding the empirical data used to calculate noise levels.

The lack of data transparency is not surprising given that in 2009 the Navy itself identified the problem of inadequate noise measurement data, lack of consistent noise measurement methodology and standards, and lack of jet noise database. It appears that the Navy has not taken steps to address these deficiencies. The Navy needs to start now by taking proper Growler noise measurements which are key for preparing a scientifically and legally defensible DEIS.

The above deficiencies of the DEIS are among many that have been found. The Navy may seem all-powerful, but citizens can point out the naked deficiencies and obfuscation in the DEIS. Quiet Skies is putting out more info and holding two sessions to help people write comments. See www.quietskies.info for details.

Please submit comment letters by Jan 25.

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“Growler” Draft Environmental Impact Statement: The Emperor Has No Clothes Deadline for comments on Jan. 25 — 6 Comments

  1. I am sure that in China and Russia similr EIS studies are on going similar to the “GROWLER” 1400 PAGE EIS.

  2. Thank you Merry:

    Perhaps a perspective is my aim.I wish China and Russia would have to prepare EIS on their many economic and military projects. Thus a much safer planet- but forget not what kind of governments run those two countries.

  3. We live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Is hearing a bit of aircraft noise too big of a burden to protect it?

  4. Do you live here, @John Davidson? Do you hear the jet roar often until 1 a.m.? Do you think surrounding China with missiles or threatening Russia will lead to peace? What do you think our chances for nuclear war is if we keep threatening these and other countries with militaristic aggression? Who are the “winners” if a nuclear war should happen? Why are we even tempting fate? Living at ground zero in regard to proximity to Bangor nuke sub base scares me. Accidents and acts of terrorism do happen. Is it worth risking life on earth for these things? The growler jets are only here so our boys can go home for dinner, rather than practice in Idaho. I do not understand anyone loving war or defending it, let alone defending war as business-as-usual or a way of life. All that I can see us “defending” by militaristic proliferation are the lies we are told by our handlers, who make obscene profits out of endless war.

  5. I’m with you, John Davidson. Every time I hear the sound of military aircraft flying drills, I know my butt is being covered by someone who has no clue as to who I am but is putting his life on the line every time he puts his butt into his aircraft. Whether it be practice or the real deal, he literally puts his own life on the line for me. Coming from a military background and having family and friends who fought to keep this country free, I feel for those who can’t seem to understand that some noise is a blessing.