New Challenge to Navy EIS by COER


The Whidbey Island group “citizens of the ebey’s reserve” (COER)   is continuing it’s challenge to the Navy Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). These rubber stamp items never seem to be anything more than a bureaucratic formality rather than a serious opportunity for the public to challenge Navy demands to our waters and air.


The 60-Day Letter 

Threats to Northwest Washington
The United States military is waging a war on Americans and the living environments that are located next to their military installations. Civilians, communities, and the natural environment including the entire Puget Sound estuary have become casualties of that war. In Northwest Washington, the communities and waters—known as the Salish Sea—surrounding the Olympic Peninsula, San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island and Gulf Islands, and Puget Sound are under assault by the Navy…including iconic and endangered species such as the Marbled Murrelet and the Southern Resident Killer Whales (Orcas) and decreasing numbers of salmon. 

Northwest Washington communities have partnered with the military to do their part for national security. In 2018, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced its decision to vastly expand the Navy’s Growler jet program and electronic warfare training over Whidbey Island, the San Juan Islands, and the Olympic Peninsula. The impacts of more jets flying more often include deafening noise, poisoned air, land and water, livelihoods in jeopardy, and harm to threatened species in Northwest Washington. In making its decision, military leadership ignored the objections of citizens, organizations, elected officials, and public agencies. 

Because few public processes exist to ensure citizen input on military issues, SDA and its member groups (together representing 25,000 Washingtonians) have joined forces to seek a balance between the needs of the military and the needs of impacted communities. SDA encourages economic diversification and defends policies and institutions designed to preserve our land, air, water, and wildlife. 

COER, a founding group member of the Sound Defense Alliance has initiated legal action against the Navy’s Final Environmental Impact Statement, as well as other legal challenges over the past 8 years, including the attached 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue under the Endangered Species Act. 

The attached 60-day notice alerts government agencies of their violation of Section 7 of the ESA for failing to reinitiate formal consultations with regard to the NWTT SEIS and the Growler EIS.  These agencies have a duty to reinitiate consultation when “new information reveals effects of [their] action that may affect listed species or critical habitat in a manner or to an extent not previously considered.” 50 C.F.R. § 402.16(a)(2).  The duty to reinitiate Section 7 consultation in this case is triggered by Kuehne’s new scientific findings on Growler noise under water.  

These projects cannot legally go forward without new biological opinions that consider the effects of Growler noise radiating great distances in all directions from the air-water interface.  Moreover, the new biological opinions must analyze the effects of Growler noise deep underwater in conjunction with the effects of vast and increasing man-made noise affecting the underwater environment and the marine fauna that live and breed there. 

Listed government agencies have 60 days in which to consider COER’s notice and to reinitiate consultation in these projects before COER can file suit under the ESA.  

COER has offered to meet and confer with the agencies as to the violations noticed.

Citizens of the Ebey’s Reserve (COER) is represented by Bricklin & Newman, LLP, attorneys at law, 1424 Fourth Avenue, Ste. 500, Seattle, WA 98101, telephone 206.264.8600.  

For more information on COER: search “citizens of the ebey’s reserve” on Facebook; or visit citizensofebeysreserve.com/

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