In-Depth Article on Navy Training Plans – Truthout

Local writer Dahr Jamail has written the first in-depth piece I’ve seen on the Navy plans for expansion of it’s electronic warfare training. He brings home the key issues that this entire program raises. And the casual way that the Navy went about expecting to push through this plan.  The core of the story is not necessarily this one expansion, but the apparent decision, done without public input, to radically expand the presence of Navy training in Puget Sound, as opposed to elsewhere. This decision has apparently been made, and what we see is the pieces being rolled out as quietly as possible.The West End training that is the current hot issue (there are more than one happening simultaneously) is a good place to start challenging this entire program.

It is important to note that neither I nor anyone I know is against having the Navy train our pilots as they see fit. The issue is where. The Navy put these facilities into North Puget Sound during an era (the 1940s and 50s) when the population was much smaller, and the scale of the training was much smaller. Now we have screaming jets flying over us at all hours of day and night, with the Navy seeking the authority to do so almost continuously. This training, if approved, will have it happening at low altitudes in areas near the Hoh River where tens of thousands of people hike and camp every year.The noise will be encroaching on a National Park, which is supposed to be a haven for wilderness, which in my definition, does not include low flying fighter jet noise.

The increase in low flying helicopter sorties over Port Townsend, for example has increased dramatically since 2000. Last year the Navy very quietly expanded the ability to do so over the Bay with not one of our politicians even being aware of the program. (I know because I brought it to their attention at the time).  And the noise from the jet training at Whidbey has been heard from the San Juans to Port Townsend (a distance of 16 nautical miles, or from Seattle to Sea-Tac) as late as midnight during peak training periods.

The Armed Forces work for us. Taxpayers fund their expansion. We have the right to call them on their plans, regardless if we *win* or not on the issue. Or is that battle over? Are we now just a country that exists for the military and their needs? It often seems so.

If you care about this issue, you might want to read Dahr’s excellent article. And then decide whether you want to comment. But my suggestion is to contact our Senators and Representatives. They hold the power to slow this and get the right thing done. Our comments are just wallpaper for the Navy’s process.ånetic-war-games-over-national-park-and-forest-in-washington-state

One Response

  1. can the publisher of this newsletter see that the following information gets a wider audience? can you publish it as an article and not just a posted comment?


    The Navy has skirted doing a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for this “project” by claiming there will be “NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT”.

    Incredulously, the US Forest Service has accepted that claim, and has decided to grant the Navy a long-term permit to use our National Forests for their mobile emitters. These vehicles will emit powerful electromagnetic radiation. Warplanes will be practicing locating these emitters, and very possibly, in the near future, disrupting and disabling signals.

    The Forest Service is inviting pubic input on their decision to grant the permit. We have a very short window of opportunity here to voice our objections. The deadline for comments is Nov 28th.

    Forest Service officials have recently stated that only “substantive” comments will have the power to reverse their decision.

    This means that in your official comments, you must point out that the Navy has violated Federal law, which, in this case, is NEPA.

    NEPA refers to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. Through this Act, the federal government recognized “each generation’s responsibility to act as a trustee of the environment for future generations.” The Act mandated a coordination of all Federal plans, agencies, resources, policies, actions to put the protection of the environment as a law, in order to “assure for all Americans safe, healthful, productive and esthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings”, “without degradation, risk to health or safety, or other undesirable or unintended consequences” (42 U.S.Code 4331)

    You must mention how the Navy’s EA violated NEPA. Some ideas are outlined below. Add more if you can. This will make your comments “substantive”. If you have already submitted comments, you can submit additional comments and include “substantive” objections. It is not required to include all the details of the argument. Just point out that the Navy’s Environmental Assessment is in violation of NEPA, and include some, or all, of the following points in your comments:

    1. The Navy violated NEPA procedure by their failure to adequately notify the public about their project. (tiny notices were placed in obscure locations, and published in distant newspapers.) The public was not adequately informed, as Federal law requires.

    2. The Navy violated NEPA procedure by not notifying or consulting with Olympic National Park as they drafted their Environmental Assessment (EA). This project will severely impact the wilderness experience for millions of visitors to the Park every year. By law, the National Park should have been consulted when the Navy was drafting their plans .

    3. The Navy violated NEPA procedure by not addressing future and cumulative impacts of the project. Federal Law requires that these be fully disclosed and analyzed. The Navy states that their project aims to “accommodate growth in future training requirements” , yet they do not specifically disclose what that growth will include, nor analyze its impacts. According to Navy’s own briefs, the interception and disabling of signals by their planes, called Growlers, plays a central role in electronic warfare training, As such, the Navy must address this very plausible escalation in their EA. All future phases of the Electronic Warfare Training Project must be fully disclosed and evaluated in full.This is Federal law. The Navy is not permitted to disclose their plans incrementally or attempt to disguise their bigger plans by a “piecemeal” approach.

    4. The Navy violated NEPA procedure by not using the most recent and “best available science” in their conclusion that there will be “No Significant Impact” from their project. Their supporting science documents are sorely outdated. Thousands of recent, peer-reviewed studies suggest there are very real harmful effects— both to humans and to wildlife— from man-made electromagnetic fields. In addition, this project is to take place in critical habitats for species threatened with extinction, the Marbled Murrulet and the Northern Spotted Owl. Studies have not been conducted to investigate how this project might diminish these species chances to avoid extinction. The Navy’s EA is sorely deficient in this regard, and as such, it violates Federal law.

    5. The Navy violated NEPA procedure by failing to address the impacts this electromagnetic radiation will have on bees, butterflies, and bats as well as the multitude of other small animals and insects. Because the current worldwide Bee Colony Collapse is such a threat to our food security, the President of the United States has called for all government agencies, including the Department of Defense, to make the protection of pollinators a critical priority. (Scientists have found that man-made ElectroMagnetic Radiation radically disrupts bees’ ability to navigate and find their way back to their hives. )The omission of bees in the Navy’s EA renders the document sorely deficient. As such, it is a violation of NEPA.

    6. The Navy violated NEPA procedure by not addressing at all the following areas where impacts will be experienced. Federal Law requires that the Navy fully analyze and disclose all potential impacts—direct, indirect and cumulative—that their project could have. Neither the Navy nor the Forest Service are permitted to dismiss the following:

    A. Noise from the airplanes: This was completely ignored in the Navy’s EA. The “soundscape” of Olympic National Park and the surrounding wilderness areas will be severely impacted by squadrons of noisy warplanes practicing overhead most days of the year. This noise will also greatly impact thousands of citizens’ “quality of life” who are forced to live directly underneath these practices.

    B. Pollution: The Navy did not address the pollution, both chemical and electromagnetic, that would be produced from the airplanes.The pollution from just one of these warplanes is tremendous.

    C. Land-use: Since the early 1900s, these pristine coastal regions and forests have provided critical habitat and protected sanctuary for wildlife. This area, long used by millions of visitors every year for recreation, will radically be altered by the Navy’s project. The noise, the pollution, and the electromagnetic radiation would destroy any wilderness experience.

    D. Economic and social impacts: Visitors to the Olympic National Park are a driving force of the economies of this region. Degrading the Park, as this project threatens to do, thus could have a huge negative impact on the entire area. The Olympic Peninsula would no longer be a desirable place to live, and real estate prices could plummet.

    Finally, if the Forest Service grants this permit, they are in violation of their own management plan, and the National Forest Management Act. The Department of Defense does not have the right to override the Forest Service’s own management plan and this Act. Electronic warfare training is not consistent with the public purposes for which national forests are reserved.

    According to the US Forest Service’s own regulations, military use our public lands is not permissible if the military has other “suitable and available” lands for their proposed action. Additionally, the Forest Service’s own management policy states that when considering issuing such a permit,

    “the interests and needs of the general public shall be given priority over those of the applicant.”

    Question: Why are the needs and desires of the general public NOT being given priority over the desires of the Navy?

    Please submit your comments before Nov 28th at the following website:

    Then contact your representatives in Congress. Many of them do not even know about this. They need to. Note: One sincere, heart-felt letter is much more effective than signing a petition. Because the decision made here could affect all our National Parks, this is a national issue.

    If we each add our voice, we can stop this plan to use the Olympic Peninsula as an ElecroMagnetic Warfare Range. Lets seize this opportunity to make our democracy work. Share this with everyone you know, and quickly, so they too can add their voice. If you do not comment before the deadline, your input—regardless of merit—will not be considered.

    Deadline for comments is Nov 28th.

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