WA Dept of Ecology approves expansion of Navy war games activity with conditions

The Washington State Dept of Ecology has allowed the Navy to continue harrassing marine animals as they have for decades. Is it any real wonder why our Orcas are in serious decline? The death of a thousand cuts. Won’t it be a great day when we value our environment more than our military industrial complex? As if we weren’t outspending all other countries. Let’s quickly review before reviewing what the state has allowed:

The U.S. spends more than 144 other countries combined. And the U.S. spends more than the next seven countries combined.

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/blog/2019/07/18/us-spends-more-its-military-176-countries-combined/

And what does the Navy wants to do in the areas where the dwindling number of Orcas live?

• Torpedo Exercise (non-explosive; Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Training)
• At-Sea Sonar Testing
• Mine Countermeasure and Neutralization Testing
• Propulsion Testing
• Undersea Warfare Testing
• Vessel Signature Evaluation
• Acoustic and Oceanographic Research
• Radar and Other Systems Testing;
• Simulant Testing – Dispertion of chemical warfare simulation.
• Intelligence Surveillance, Reconnaissance/Electronic Warfare Triton Testing

And what does Ecology want them to do to “mitigate the possible ‘taking’ (meaning harrassment or otherwise disturbing) of 51 Orcas’ which is what the Navy themselves says might happen? Here is a partial section of the document.

Any marine mammals exposed to sonar or other acoustic effects outside of the coastal zone are not likely to remain affected if the animal were to return to the coastal zone, because the vast majority of predicted effects are temporary effects to behavior, which would no longer be present when the animal is in the coastal zone.

Active sonar is required for this activity and may result in a wide range of effects from injury to behavioral changes to loss of hearing, and depends on the frequency and duration of the source, the physical characteristics of the environment, and the species (among other complex factors).

Explosives are required for this activity. The use of explosives could result in a disturbance to behavior, or lethal or non-lethal injuries (quantitative analysis done for this activity did not predict any lethal injuries for marine mammals). Most explosives would occur in the water column, minimizing effects to habitat.

Ecology and other Washington State officials and resource agencies are concerned that, without Ecology’s conditions, the Navy’s activities will have significant long-term effects on Washington coastal resources. Given the numerous marine animals and other resources that are likely to suffer the effects from the Navy’s new activities compounded by previously authorized activities,

Ecology is highlighting the effects to the Southern Resident orcas and other large cetaceans. As described in the CD, the Navy’s
mitigation measures are insufficient to provide necessary protections to the vulnerable, declining populations of key marine mammals, particularly Southern Resident orcas, of Washington’s coastal zone and lead to the conclusion that conditions are necessary to alleviate adverse effects.
Ongoing Naval exercises in the air and water around Washington pose a serious threat to Southern Resident orcas, and the impact of new and expanded activities will further threaten this vulnerable
population. Ecology’s conditions will help minimize the threats to these animals. An icon of the Pacific Northwest, Southern Resident orcas have captured the hearts of Washington’s residents, citizens, and
visitors and hold significant cultural value for Washington’s tribes. With the apparent loss of three whales last summer 2019, Southern Resident orcas appear to have a population of just 73 whales—the lowest population level in more than 40 years. Given this declining population, the loss of even one more whale could greatly undermine recovery efforts for decades. The most up-to-date information on the Southern Resident orca population, must be relied on, and assessments of impacts must be based on current data, which projects the existing population of 73 whales. Thus, the potential harm of the Navy’s activities on this vulnerable population
has been underestimated. With such a small and shrinking population, the impact of each take is amplified within the population.


The Navy’s actions could result in a total of 51 annual “takes” a year of Southern Resident orcas in the form of Level B harassment. Given the imperiled nature of this population, this number of takes threatens a significant impact on the population from the Navy’s training and testing activities.

Furthermore, these take numbers do not account for the fact that Southern Resident orcas generally travel in pods and thus likely underestimate the potential adverse impact to this precarious population since activities could impact multiple animals at once. Additionally, three orcas appear to be carrying young, which makes them more vulnerable, as well as their future calves.

The cumulative impact of repeated exposures to the same whales over time needs to be seriously considered, and Ecology’s conditions can address these impacts. The Navy’s testing and training activities have already been authorized twice before, and are likely to continue into the future.
According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, “Due to the longevity of Southern Resident orcas and the estimated percentage of take for the population [being] so high (68%), the effects of take will be compounded over time and may have cumulative effects, such as behavioral abandonment of key foraging areas and adverse, long term effects on hearing and echolocation.”

Instances of temporary hearing loss, such as the Temporary Threshold Shifts (TTS) can be cumulative and lead to long-term hearing loss. This could have a significant impact on Southern Resident orcas,
which rely on hearing for communication, feeding, and ship avoidance.

In addition, Level B Harassment can disrupt “migration, surfacing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering, to a point where such behavioral patterns are abandoned or significantly altered,” all behaviors critical to survival of the Southern Resident orcas. Given the many stresses already faced by
this endangered population, repeated harassment on this scale could be significant and even lead to mortality.


The Navy’s use of mid-frequency sonar can impact wildlife within 2,000 square miles and mine explosives can cause death or injury. Although these activities may affect a wide range of marinemammals, the potential impact of these activities on endangered Southern Resident orcas is of
particular concern, given their dangerously low population size. This is the third consecutiveauthorization period during which the Navy may be approved for such testing and training exercises andthese or similar activities are likely to continue for decades. For long-lived marine species, the effects oftake will be compounded over time and may have cumulative effects, such as behavioral abandonment of key foraging areas and adverse, long-term effects on hearing and echolocation. Again, the Navy finds
these effects of minor significance, a finding with which Ecology disagrees.
Gray whales are currently undergoing an unexplained die-off leading to 352 strandings between January 2019 and July 2020, including 44 strandings along the coast of Washington alone. NOAA is investigating the die-off as an Unusual Mortality Event. While it is not clear what specifically is driving this event, many animals show signs of “poor to thin body condition.”

Because the cause of the Unusual Mortality Event is unknown, the Navy cannot cite an increasing population and then assert that its activities for a
seven-year period are insignificant because the health of the gray whale population could decline.


For several species, including harbor seals, Dall’s porpoise, and harbor porpoise, the Navy’s near constant harassment every year for a seven–year period could significantly damage the population of those species. For example, the Navy’s proposal could lead to a take 30 times the abundance of the Hood Canal population of harbor seals every year, 3,084 percent of population abundance, and similarly authorizes high levels of takes for Southern Puget Sound harbor seals (168 percent of population
abundance). This high level of take could lead to interruptions in foraging that could lead to reproductive loss for female harbor seals. However, there is no analysis regarding how this harassment and loss of reproduction could affect the population as a whole, beyond an assertion that these impacts “would not be expected to adversely affect the stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.”


The rates of take for populations of Dall’s porpoises (131 percent of population abundance) and the populations of harbor porpoises on the Northern OR/WA Coast (244 percent of population abundance)
and in Washington Inland Waters (265 percent of population abundance) are also exceptionally high.

These porpoises are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of anthropogenic sound. This level of take could also lead to reproductive loss.
The leatherback turtle is classified as endangered under the ESA and has Critical Habitat designated within the Study Area. The western Pacific leatherback sea turtle populations are particularly at risk, and
the SEIS states that (the effort to analyze population structure and distribution by distinct population segment…) is critical to focus efforts to protect the species, because the status of individual stocks varies
widely across the world. Western Pacific leatherbacks have declined more than 80 percent and eastern Pacific leatherbacks have declined by more than 97 percent since the 1980s. Because the threats to these subpopulations have not ceased, the International Union for Conservation of Nature has predicted a decline of 96 percent for the western Pacific subpopulation.”

https://apps.ecology.wa.gov/aquatics/decisions/

Navy dumps hazardous substances including copper, zinc into Puget Sound, Washington state AG says – Seattle Times

More on what it means when the Trump Administration wants to roll back environmental protection. Here it is, come home to roost. Kudos to the AG who once again is out to protect us and our environment from the consequences of this disastrous president. Is this what Making America Great Again is all about?

The U.S. Navy dumped the equivalent of 50 dump truck loads of solid material, including copper and zinc, into Puget Sound and must be stopped before it does so again, according to Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson. The Navy provides dock space at Naval Base Kitsap for decommissioned, nonoperational vessels to be dismantled, recycled and disposed of. While cleaning the ship Independence at the yard in January 2017 before shipment to Texas for disposal, the Navy dumped the scraped-off paint into Sinclair Inlet, in violation of state and federal laws, according to a news release issued by Ferguson….Ferguson’s office notified the Navy on Thursday of the state’s intent to join a suit in federal court to ask the Navy to clean up the mess and to require the Navy to stop scraping ships at Navy Base Kitsap and dumping the material in Sinclair Inlet. Lynda Mapes reports. (Seattle Times)

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/environment/navy-dumps-equivalent-of-50-truckloads-of-hazardous-material-into-puget-sound-state-ag-says/?utm_source=referral&utm_medium=mobile-app&utm_campaign=ios

Submarine, support vessel collide off Washington coast – AP via Q13Fox

While not fatal to the environment (at least that we know about due to Navy secrecy), it is a reminder of how at risk our Strait and Coast are to possible radioactive contamination if one of these vessels has a catastrophic failure due to a crash. How their support vessel crashed into them is something  I hope we get more information on, from the Navy. Perhaps Derek Kilmer’s staff can ask for clarification?

BANGOR, Wash. (AP) — The Navy says a ballistic-missile submarine and a support vessel collided off the coast of Washington state.

There were no injuries from the Thursday evening incident in the Strait of Juan de Fuca involving the USS Louisiana and the offshore support vessel. In a statement, the Navy said the collision occurred during routine operations.

From http://q13fox.com/2016/08/19/submarine-support-vessel-collide-off-washington-coast/

 

Navy set to train SEALs on public beaches? 

Just in this AM. Appears to be accurate and very disturbing. The Navy appear to be set to expand SEAL training to some very public beaches. If you feel you want to take action on this, call our elected officials and demand an accounting about this. 

Dear Colleagues,

The Navy  SEAL teams are apparently proposing conducting a massive 4-month amphibious landing combat training program at 68+ beaches, state parks and residential coastal areas in Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and along western coastal beaches, starting in mid-January and going through mid-April. Training events range from 2 to 72 hours, are to be held from 2 to 24 times per year per site, and in some cases involve mock battles with “realistic” simulated weapons. No NEPA process has been conducted, the public has evidently not been notified, and other evidence points to the fact that local, state and federal agencies are also largely unaware of the Navy’s plans. 

(Olyopen states: these locations including Ft. Worden, Ft. Casey, and many other public locations! View the map in the article’s link)

This begs the question: what provisions for public safety, wildlife and habitat, and cultural and historic property protection have been made? 

This article by investigative reporter Dahr Jamail, 

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/34367-exclusive-navy-uses-us-citizens-as-pawns-in-domestic-war-games published today in Truthout, has details and links to internal Navy documents with color-coded maps of targeted areas showing what types of combat training activities will be held in each area. From looking at these files, it appears that 2016 is not the first year for this training. Obviously it’s going to be a big concern throughout the region, and our purpose in writing to you is to ensure that you know, and that the public is made aware of it so that issues concerning public safety, cultural and historic property, and fish, wildlife, and habitat concerns are not ignored. 

As an aside, the Navy is having a public meeting in Port Angeles tomorrow, Tuesday January 12, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Elks Naval Lodge, 131 E. First St. They plan to discuss the pier proposal at Ediz Hook and will only accept written comments, but it is a public meeting, and the same people who have handled (and mishandled) NEPA for the region will be there. Here’s the notice:

http://www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrnw/installations/navbase_kitsap/news/nbkNR/environmental-assessment-for-port-angeles-support-facilities-pro.html

Did the US Navy Break Federal Laws to Push War Games Over National Forests? – Truth Out

The continuing saga of the Navy taking over more land, sea and air space, with the implied notion that they “own” it. We need a good lawyer out here that can stop this nonsense.  A good read by Truth-Out’s local writer Dahr Jamail.

“The Navy has an astonishing sense of entitlement to public lands and waters,” Sullivan said about how the Navy has approached the public’s concerns over its operations. “Northwest Training and testing range manager Kent Mathes told me last year after a public meeting, ‘We own the airspace and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.'”

As Truthout previously reported, if it gets its way, the Navy would be flying Growler jets – electronic attack aircraft that specialize in radar jamming – in 2,900 training exercises over wilderness, communities and cities across the Olympic Peninsula for 260 days per year, with exercises lasting up to 16 hours per day. Naval surface fleet ships will also be participating by homing in on ground-based emitters – a topic that was never discussed in the Navy’s environmental assessment.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/33387-us-navy-allegedly-broke-federal-laws-to-push-forward-electromagnetic-war-training-over-national-forests

Navy Final EIS contains numerous flaws-West Coast Action Alliance

In my email today. There are steps you can take to continue the opposition to this unnecessary and likely illegal expansion of Navy training over our quiet corner of the country. Illegal because the Navy itself, in a joint memorandum with the Forest Service back in the 70s, established that they cannot use FS land if there is an alternative available. The FS and Navy continues to ignore this fundamental legally binding document and allow the expansion of the use of Navy planes over the edge of the Olympic National Park and it’s ecology of quiet. The upshot is that it is likely to cause the Navy and FS substantial taxpayer funded monies to fight this expansion against the taxpayers funding it! You can do something. Read on.

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

We would like to bring your attention to the publication of a new Navy document: the Final EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) for Northwest Training and Testing (http://nwtteis.com).  While impacts from the Growler jets, the Electronic Warfare Range, and the Northwest Training and Testing are all functionally connected, they have been separated into multiple documents covering an area from Northern California to Alaska.

The latest EIS is unlawful and fatally flawed for a number of significant reasons, listed briefly below. These are explained in detail in a Joint Memorandum by the West Coast Action Alliance and the Olympic Forest Coalition. It was sent to senior Navy officials in Washington DC and the Pacific Northwest, selected federal and state legislators and County Commissions in Northern California, Oregon and Washington, plus city councils on the north Olympic Peninsula, and a variety of other organizations and individuals. Supporting materials can be found on the WCAA web site at: http://westcoastactionalliance.org

Reasonable concerns by the public have long been ignored, and this controversy intensifies by the day. For example, Congressman Derek Kilmer requested several months ago that the Navy undertake a “neutral” sound study on the effects of jet noise over Olympic National Park, under the auspices of the Federal Interagency Committee on Aviation Noise (FICAN). But the Navy ignored his request and reconstituted an old study using data that applied to Prowler jets, which are no longer being flown and are less powerful and less noisy than Growlers. They inserted that old study in the new EIS and claimed “no significant impacts” on the soundscapes of Olympic National Park.

The reasons we believe the latest EIS is unlawful and fatally flawed are:

  • Failure to provide reasonable notice to the public
  • Failure to provide adequate comment process 
  • Failure to address functionally connected activities and their cumulative impacts
  • Failure to adequately consider impacts to Olympic National Park’s World Heritage designation 
  • Failure to wait until completion of Final EIS and Record of Decision before initiating actions 

We believe that the government should follow federal law and policy, and that it is neither unpatriotic nor unreasonable for citizens to ask them to do so.

What can you do?

  1. Read the joint memorandum and its attached letter from UNESCO on the WCAA web site;
  2. Write letters to your elected representatives; a list is here: http://westcoastactionalliance.org/location
  3. Write letters to the editors of local papers;
  4. Finally, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Olympic Peninsula Protection Fund. Monies will be used for advocacy, outreach, and legal defense. You can use PayPal here (http://olympicforest.org/?page_id=121) or write a check to: Olympic Forest Coalition, PO Box 461, Quilcene, WA 98376.

The West Coast Action Alliance invites you to respond to this email or submit comments. However, on the advice of counsel, we cannot commit to preparing responses or answering questions in this forum.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

The West Coast Action Alliance and the Olympic Forest Coalition

EarthJustice wins lawsuit against the Navy over sonar sites

This just in. EarthJustice, an environmental group that often sues to protect species and habitat, have claimed to have won a major victory against the Navy, to protect marine mammals from sonar testing. I have not yet seen the ruling, so I am unclear as to how much area it protects. For example, Earthjustice only mentions Hawaii and Southern California in their press release. It is unclear as to whether the Navy will honor the Washington/Oregon and Alaska coastal areas. In Alaska, for example, whales have been washing up dead in numbers unprecedented in recent history,during and  just after Navy training exercises in June. This web site will work to better understand the ruling and how it might affect us in the Pacific NW. More to follow.

For the first time ever, the U.S. Navy has agreed to put vast swaths of important habitat for numerous marine mammals off limits to dangerous mid-frequency sonar training and testing and the use of powerful explosives.

Until it expires in late 2018, the agreement will protect habitat for the most vulnerable marine mammal populations, including endangered blue whales, for which waters off the coast of Southern California are a globally important feeding area. It will also protect numerous small, resident whale and dolphin populations off Hawai‘i, for whom the islands are literally their only home.

Judge dismisses lawsuit against easement that blocks ‘pit-to-pier’ project on Hood Canal – PDN

And so it goes. The Pit to Pier people never seem to give up, and seem to have an inexhaustible amount of money to spend fighting anything that stands in their way. I wonder if this is the end of the line for them though?

A federal court judge has dismissed a lawsuit against the Navy challenging a conservation easement that would block development of a 998-foot pier and gravel-loading project sought by Hood Canal Sand and Gravel. U. S. District Judge Benjamin Settle on Tuesday granted a motion to dismiss, ruling that the Navy did not exceed its authority in granting the 55-year easement on state-owned tidelands along Hood Canal…. The easement is an agreement between the Navy and the state Department of Natural Resources announced in July 2014 that would block development on more than 4,800 acres of state land along Hood Canal, stretching from the Hood Canal Bridge south to just below the border between Jefferson and Mason counties. (Peninsula Daily News)

lhttp://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20150903/NEWS/150909989/judge-dismisses-lawsuit-against-easement-that-blocks-pit-to-pier

Letters of opposition needed now on Navy Electronic Warfare Range

This in from the Protect Olympic Peninsula people:
The Executive Director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics told citizens that letters to Mr. Bonnie may be the best shot we have to defeat the plan of the Navy’s to turn the Olympic Peninsula into an Electronic Warfare Range.  We only have a few weeks left before the Forest Service makes its “decision”.
The letters don’t have to be long…but we need a lot of them! Can you spread this Alert through your own network, and perhaps share it with the younger generation who are so adept at social media? Know any groups who would post it on their Facebook page?
ACTION ALERT: SAVE OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
Please help save beautiful Olympic National Park from becoming a Warfare training Range! We have only a few weeks before the decision is made. YOUR voice is needed! See how you can help:
It has been recommended that the letters to Mr. Bonnie also be cc’d to our representatives. Thank you for caring and taking action.
Derek Kilmer’s exec secretary’s email address:

Judge declines to stop the Growler overflights on Whidbey Island  – Seattle Times

A setback in the work to end the Growler overflight expansion. I think it might be appropriate for the judge in this case to go live in one of these homes for a month, then make a ruling.
Judge says citizens of Ebey’s Reserve failed to show the impact of Growler overflights was significantly worse than predicted by the Navy in 2005. Mike Carter reports. (Seattle Times)

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/judge-declines-to-issue-injunction-to-stop-growler-flights-at-whidbey/

Questions being raised about Navy’s possible implication in mass whale deaths in Alaska – KTUU TV

5 more dead whales found in Alaska waters since June; total 14 dead.

The highly unusual mass death of whales in Alaskan waters, happened during the time frame that Navy was conducting bombing training that they said, in their documents that they filed with their ESA, that would involve killing of sea mammals.

New concerns were raised for Alaskan whales as the Navy conducted a training exercise in the Gulf of Alaska for two weeks June. Researchers are monitoring for dead whale sightings after the exercise. Sonobuoys were used as part of the exercise – a technology that affects deep diving whale species like beaked whales and sperm whales most, researchers say.

Interestingly, once the Navy started monitoring the situation the whale deaths stopped.

http://www.ktuu.com/news/news/5-more-dead-whales-found-in-alaska-waters-since-june-total-14-dead/34101154

Sounds of War: Navy Warplanes Producing Deadly Noise Around US Bases – Truthout

Local writer Dar Jamail has followed up his first controversial article on the Navy’s plans for the training of pilots over the Olympic Peninsula last fall, with a new article. In it he  documents concerns with noise levels citizens of Whidbey Island are experiencing, along with the thoughts of medical professionals who work in field of hearing loss, occupational and environmental medicine, among others. A good read.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32045-sounds-of-war-navy-warplanes-producing-deadly-noise-around-us-bases

Protecting The Olympic National Park From Noise Pollution- Outside Magazine

Welcome to the Quietest Square Inch in the U.S.

And meet the man who’s made it his mission to keep it that way

Outside Magazine profiles Gordon Hempton, the acoustic ecologist who is documenting the “quietest place in the US”. His work has identified the Hoh River Valley as the quietest place in the US, and by doing so, he has put himself squarely into the controversy over the Navy’s plan to expand the use of the airspace over it for what the Navy themselves claim could be around the clock training sorties.

A must read for any of us concerned about protecting the silence that we cherish in our environment out here on the Peninsula.

http://www.outsideonline.com/2000721/americas-quietest-square-inch-and-preserving-natural-sounds

Navy easement on hold until lawsuit settled – Kitsap Sun

Disappointing but not unexpected news. Working piecemeal on this apparently.

The Navy has suspended its application for a restrictive easement along Hood Canal’s Kitsap County shoreline until a lawsuit over a similar easement on the Jefferson County side is settled. Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor applied with the state Department of Natural Resources in August 2013 for an easement from the Hood Canal bridge south to the county line near Holly that would prohibit new commercial wharves, piers, docks and floats. It would comprise a strip of state-owned bedlands from 18 feet below the average low tide to 70 feet down. Ed Friedrich reports. (Kitsap Sun)

Worth noting that the Kitsap Sun requires a subscription to view.

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/local-news/navy-easement-on-hold-until-lawsuit-settled_95679823

Court Rules Navy War Games Violate Law Protecting Whales and Dolphins

From the National Resources Defense Council. I for one, am glad I donate to their cause!
U.S. District Court deems that nearly 9.6 million underwater assaults on whales and dolphins were improperly assessed as “negligible”

LOS ANGELES (March 31, 2015) —A federal court today announced that the U.S. Navy’s training and testing activities off the coast of Southern California and Hawaii illegally harm more than 60 whale, dolphin, seal, and sea lion populations. The U.S. District Court, District of Hawaii, found that the National Marine Fisheries Service – the agency charged with protecting marine mammals – violated multiple requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act when agreeing to the Navy’s plan.

“Searching the administrative record’s reams of pages for some explanation as to why the Navy’s activities were authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service (‘NMFS’), this court feels like the sailor in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ who, trapped for days on a ship becalmed in the middle of the ocean, laments, ‘Water, water every where, Nor any drop to drink.’” the Court wrote in its 66-page opinion.

The case before the Court was brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Cetacean Society International, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Pacific Environment and Resources Center, and Michael Stocker.

In 2014, the case was consolidated for administrative purposes with another action (Conservation Council for Hawaii v. National Marine Fisheries Service) challenging the government’s authorizations of Navy activities in Hawaii and Southern California. Today, the Court also ruled against the government in that action.

Under its five-year plan for training and testing, the Navy is permitted to harm whales, dolphins, and other marine mammals nearly 9.6 million times while conducting high-intensity sonar exercises and underwater detonations. These harmful impacts include millions of instances of temporary hearing loss and significant disruptions in vital behaviors, such as habitat abandonment, as well as permanent hearing loss, permanent injury and more than 150 deaths.

Ocean noise is one of the biggest threats worldwide to the health and well-being of marine mammals, which rely on sound to ‘see’ their world. Navy sonar activities, shipping noise, and seismic exploration by oil and gas companies have made our oceans noisier in recent decades, resulting in widespread disruption to feeding, communication, mating, and more.

Following is a statement by Zak Smith, attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Marine Mammal Protection Project, representing plaintiffs:

“Defenseless marine mammals are going deaf and hungry and may die at the hands of our Navy. And the laws we have that are meant to limit such harms have been misused by the government.

“Instead of downplaying the impacts on marine mammals – including endangered blue, fin and humpback whales – the government should be doing more to protect them from these harmful activities.

“The Navy has solutions at its disposal to ensure it limits the harm to these animals during its exercises.  It’s time to stop making excuses and embrace those safety measures.”

Mysterious booms continue to shake houses in west Port Angeles, Joyce while defying explanation – PDN

The only thing mysterious about these booms, is that the Navy isn’t forthcoming with why they are continuing to allow their pilots to fly supersonic when they claim they never do. This is not a “mystery” except to reporters who aren’t asking the right questions. For all you folks dealing with the noise, this is what you are going to get a lot more of if the Navy is successful in implementing their proposed electromagnetic warfare training in Olympic National Forest & surrounding areas.

A new round of booming noises has disturbed residents of west Port Angeles and Joyce, who say the mysterious sounds shake their homes. The rattling noises were reported at about 12:21 p.m. Wednesday, almost exactly two weeks after the last round of booms heard on the afternoon of Feb. 25, and again at about 9:35 a.m. Thursday…. Speculation on the cause of the booms has included naval military exercises in the Strait, thunder, sonic booms from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island aircraft, hunters and small, shallow earthquakes. Arwyn Rice reports. (Peninsula Daly News)

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20150312/NEWS/303129974/mysterious-booms-continue-to-shake-houses-in-west-port-angeles-joyce

Whidbey anti-jet group appeals to Navy brass – Whidbey News-Times

The battle goes on to protect us from ever increasing noise pollution.

A Central Whidbey citizen group is amping up the scope of its fight against the Navy’s increasing presence in Puget Sound. Representatives of Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, or COER, say they mailed a letter in February to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus addressing what they describe as the dangers of the Navy’s new EA-18G Growler. The group also threatens additional action, if necessary. Janis Reid reports. (Whidbey News-Times)

http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/news/294911181.html

Navy unveils plans for pier, facilities on Port Angeles’ Ediz Hook – PDN

Navy expansion throughout the North Sound now includes expansion in Port Angeles.

The U.S. Navy has disclosed formal plans for constructing a pier and support facilities for berthing seven submarine-escort vessels on Ediz Hook. An environmental assessment is underway for the three potential sites at the end of the long, narrow spit along shoreline occupied by Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles, home to more than 250 Coast Guard personnel.Paul Gottlieb reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20150129/NEWS/301299973/navy-unveils-plans-for-pier-facilities-on-port-angeles-ediz-hook

Navy seeks public comment on sonar use in training with supplement to environmental impact statement -PDN

This has to do with the previous EISA which involves the offshore training impacts primarily. But there are people reviewing this document to see what’s been added. One has to wonder that the odd timing of this isn’t somehow related to adding things for the Forest Service EA under this update to the EISA that is related to it. Confusing? You bet. And likely very well calculated to be.

The U.S. Navy has completed a supplement to an environmental impact statement that examines the proposed increased use of sonar in the Northwest Training and Testing Area. The Northwest Training and Testing Draft Environmental Impact Statement/Overseas Environmental Impact Statement is available for public review and comment online at http://tinyurl.com/PDN-eissonar. The Navy is accepting comments through Feb. 2. The draft environmental impact study and supplement for the Northwest Training and Testing Study Area are separate from a controversial electronic warfare training project in the Olympic Military Operations Area for which the Navy is seeking U.S. Forest Service permits.   (Peninsula Daily News)

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20141224/news/312249984/navy-seeks-public-comment-on-sonar-use-in-training-with-supplement-to

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.

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