Hundreds turn out for Navy Growler EIS Scoping Meeting in Port Townsend Thursday.

Hundreds of people from the North Olympic Peninsula came to Fort Worden in Port Townsend Thursday afternoon to hear the Navy explain their plans for expansion of the Growler air fleet. The Navy had subject matter experts with signage to help explain their plans, which in some cases did clarify issues. (more on that later). Additionally, the Navy provided scribes and the ability for people to get their comments logged to the official record of public comment.

US Navy EIS EA-18G Growler Jet Expansion EIS Public Comment Meeting at Fort Worden.

US Navy EIS EA-18G Growler Jet Expansion EIS Public Comment Meeting at Fort Worden. Photos by Al Bergstein

Opponents of the expansion were out in force, and had stations with question banks so people could ask knowledgeable questions. The opposition groups have a great deal of concern about noise pollution, jet pollution, the tie in of this expansion with the Electromagnetic warfare training that the Navy plans to use these planes to test over the west end of the Olympic National Park and Clallam County.

Some interesting questions that were answered were that the Navy has traditionally only scoped a radius of 10 miles from the base. We and the San Juans are about 15 miles away. It took petitioning our government representatives to get the Navy to wave the distance requirement for San Juan and Jefferson County. Speaking of that, many of our local elected officials were present.

Also, the Navy spokesperson was quite clear that the multiple EIS, EAs etc. that the Navy currently has moving, while easily seeming to be a tactic to throw off the civilian opposition to the expansion, in their minds is a work load issue. They just couldn’t take on all of them simultaneously.

Another question that was answered was that the planes are currently not funded in the military budget. It’s assumed they will be, but they could see funding cut at some level. It appears that the plan is for the maximum they want to add with the money they assume will be there.

There appear that are no EIS alternatives that are “no expansion”. The “No action” choice is being used as a ‘baseline’ as they call it, for the others, and the Navy claims it would not meet the goals of the DoD for electronic attack capability. To be clear, the Navy expects to expand their fleet here. The only possibility standing between that expansion is citizen opposition at all levels to change the goals, or have them find another field elsewhere. The Navy seems not interested in those options at all.

It is clear that these folks see their job to sell this expansion to us, as a simple matter economic savings by bringing all the planes and pilots here. Some of the people I spoke with live on the East Coast, have lived with Navy jet noise for years and see it as just the way the world works. It’s up to people here to make the Navy understand that expansion of this base, in a heavily populated area, is not something we have been able to vote on, and  that seems to be unstoppable, as the Navy themselves gives no alternative option to growing the base. While people who are openly anti-military attended the meeting, it seemed as if the bulk of the people are simply concerned with the growing noise pollution, threat to the environment, possible unknown health risks from these secret devices on the planes, and feel that it’s better suited to another, more remote base. One where the local population is much smaller, and spread away from the jets and their training.

So there you have it. It’s up to you to decide. They have presented their case. Do you want an expanding world of unmuffled jets, flying an expanded array of sorties throughout the day and night, or will you take some action now to try and put some rational limits on the local growth of this particular base? Do you want to continue to trade away our environment, both as it affects humans and the natural world around us? Do you think that people will continue to come  here to camp, fish and sail as the jet noise continues to increase, when they can choose to go elsewhere where it’s quieter? It’s not just about the environment, but it’s also about economic issues.

It is worth noting that we put up with a huge amount of Navy now, and have for decades. Indian Island, Bangor Sub Base and the ongoing closures of the Hood Canal Bridge which ties up commerce, harassment by Coast Guard of recreational sailors for what seems like practice on their part rather than any real concern, noise pollution of jets waking us at midnight, and unknown deaths and injuries to Orcas, whales and other sea life.  The Navy admits they kill sea mammals. It’s just a question of how many, not if they will or not.

The Navy sees this all as part of their job to protect us. They are nice people, many with families too. They feel very patriotic about their job and they should. But they work for us, not a bunch of shareholders and stock. We are the ones that would have to say, “thanks’ but we have enough Navy here now, and your plans don’t fit this place. You are not actually saving us money if your consequences impact our economy. We have a unique environment with endangered species, some which are impacted severely by noise. We are not some part of the country that has already been trashed, and has nowhere to go but up. We really are in the middle. We’ve lost a lot, but have a lot more to lose. We can go either down or up in our quality of life.  We have families that come here from all over the world, because it’s quiet and beautiful. They can go outside to fabulous mountains, rivers, lakes and the ocean, and expect peace and quiet. It’s not Seattle, or some other noisy big city. If they need to do this, they need to go somewhere much more remote. ”

It’s a long shot to take this on, but if you don’t, no one else will.

8 Responses

  1. Who is the best too email about the navys warfare plans in olympic national park. The reasons I oppose this is because we have already destroyed enough wilderness and now the navy wants to ruin even more with jets and ground warfare? They lied about the elevation they were going to fly from 10,000 feet or higher, but really they could fly as low as 1200 feet. National parks are supposed to be peaceful quit places to enjoy, not concert like places, plus the navy can block off trial heads were supposed to have free access to and hurt the economy, by driving tourists and citizens out of the olympic peninsula. It’s bad enough we have to drive at least one and half ours to get to true untouched wilderness and now there will be none left?!!! Thank you navy for all you do, but please protect us by not hurting one our last wilderness gems. Please send a response to my email address if you can, I will not give up trying too save our wilderness.

  2. I challenge the assessment that all this so called “defense” protects us. Growlers over the Salish Sea are practicing total battlefield dominance – that links warships based in Everett, nuclear missile subs based near Silverdale. The war being brewed up in the pentagon, in congress is directed at Russia. Growlers use complex computer driven phenomena to destroy radar systems. A miscalculation occurs and a nuclear war breaks out – either from the man-made hell of Trident subs launching nuclear missiles from the Norwegian Sea – six minutes from Moscow. Or battlefield commanders with command control of Tactical nukes (1/2 to 6 times the size of the Hiroshima bomb) deciding to launch, or a blinded Russian defense net mistaking what is happening as an actual attack, and ordering a” use em or lose em” missile strike.
    A nuclear war will involve more than just jet noise over our homes. Where we live has many military targets. All of our lives are at grave risk as the new war unfolds. We Americans have mostly had the luxury to care or not care as our military has violently disrupted or ended the lives of millions overseas. Who cares how many casualties there were in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and now the Ukraine? The coming war may be very different, and we live on the front line.
    In the book To Win a Nuclear War: The Pentagon’s Secret War Plans, one of the world’s leading physicists – Macho Kaku – reveals declassified plans for the U.S. to launch a first-strike nuclear war against Russia. The forward was written by former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clarke.
    In Towards a World War III Scenario, Michel Chossudovsky documents that the U.S. is so enamored with nuclear weapons that it has authorized low-level field commanders to use them in the heat of battle in their sole discretion … without any approval from civilian leaders.
    Last night, December 11th, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously as the U.S. House had previously voted 98%: to join Ukraine’s war against Ukraine’s own ethnic Russians in Ukraine’s southeastern districts, in order to eliminate those resistant Ukrainians and their families. Our leaders (Kilmer included) voted to send free guns and bombs.
    The U.S. is now throwing down the gauntlet to Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin – daring him to defend openly the ethnic Russians that the U.S.-installed Ukrainian Government is now trying to exterminate in the eastern districts.
    Anything that we can do to disrupt the Navy’s plans to develop our part of the planet as the premier nuclear war practice zone will help to protect our lives, the life of our planet. Thank you for your efforts.

    Doug Milholland

  3. Thank you, Al. Excellent article. You have expressed beautifully our dilemma and given it the wide perspective we need in our personal evaluations.

  4. Exactly. Thank you.

  5. The Navy knows what it is doing but people on the committees who make the decisions in Congress only know what our local representatives tell them. God help us. They’d be voted out if they offered any protection.

    Join the campaign to contact Congress directly. It is organized and ready, but it will take more than your worry and concern. It will take the relatively boring work of emailing, faxing, or calling the actual decision-makers. The 3 or 4 hours it took for most people to attend the meeting last night is the same amount of time required to send literally hundreds of emails or calls leaving night-time messages. It is not fun, but probably the only thing that will work.

    Congress gave the Navy the authority to police themselves and Congress can set limits. Find contact information, samples, and a streamlined process to really make a difference at After looking through the directions, send just one email. If it makes sense, get a group together for an email party and send thousands.

    This is our only hope. Every mention last night of going directly to Congress with our information and requests resulted in cold looks of dread. Find answers on the link above to all of the questions you may have right now as you are reading this. Don’t let this moment of initiative pass, replaced with some question producing a hesitation.

    Join this fight and recruit additional fighters. Every “I hate those Growlers” thoughts should be followed with “I can and I will get Congress to stop them.”

  6. If the stench of the mill and the sound of unmuffled jets doesn’t persuade local citizens to unite to fight for their areas peace and serenity and health what will?

  7. Al B., Thank you for your consistent coverage of what is taking place on the Olympic Peninsula. I can understand the dilemma presented. But, you put it well for people to see a different perspective, yet be able to peaceably persuade and relate the very real problems these actions would create. Our areas here on the Olympic Peninsula are, indeed, very special and unique. It has been that way for many years, long before I was born in Port Townsend. Long before my father, who, having come out of California to be stationed at Fort Worden in the ’40s, decided to make this place his home for his new family to be, after WWII. This is the area where my grandfather decided to plant his feet in the early ’20s, because of what it offered, after immigrating from Italy,11 years separated from his wife and young daughter, (my mother), before he could have them sent here to join him. This area is in our heart, soul and life-blood. I know many who have grown up here feel the same way. So thank you for being a major spearhead to keep the information coming and bringing it to the people for their own action and thoughts. Dianna E.

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