Older posts. To see a list of news articles and watch more videos, go to the tabs under “Media.”
Welcome to the West Coast Action Alliance! This web site is full of information we hope will be useful to you, and is best viewed on a full computer screen rather than a mobile device. This News Page will be updated often.
For a quick orientation and introduction to the problem, watch this short video: For Vimeo, click here. For Youtube, click here. For a more in-depth grounding, watch this 10-minute video: The Olympic Peninsula Is Not For Electromagnetic Warfare Training, or listen to this 30-minute broadcast of a public meeting, from KPTZ Compass Radio Newsmagazine.
June 28, 2015 – Navy stealthily targets Hood Canal development: Seattle Times investigative report.
“The U.S. Navy has quietly restricted development across thousands of acres of water and land near Hood Canal in western Puget Sound. Last year, in the name of national security, the Navy may have gone too far.”
Maybe someone should also ask the Navy why Jefferson County taxpayers recently paid $5 million in Public Utility District funds for an uninterruptible, three-phase power cable running all the way to the tip of the Coyle Peninsula. Such power is a requirement for secure Navy installations. Maybe someone should also ask why more than two million dollars’ worth of land near the cable’s southern terminus was purchased by a billionaire who owns a satellite manufacturing company that just received the Defense Department’s highest security classification.
June 21, 2015 – NEW VIDEO: “The Olympic Peninsula Is Not For Electromagnetic Warfare Training.” Independent filmmaker Mitch Mattraw joined the growing citizens’ protests against the militarization of the Olympic Peninsula, producing a 10-minute creative action alert film (click here to watch it.) Click here to read the press release from Olympic Peninsula Watch. Olympic Peninsula residents are interviewed, along with an expert on the effects of electromagnetic radiation on living tissue. Activist Sallie “Spirit” Harrison is currently on a 200-mile walk around the Olympic Peninsula to raise awareness. Click here to go to her Facebook page.
June 16, 2015 – Bombing the Arctic: US Navy War Games in Gulf of Alaska Threaten One of World’s Most Pristine Areas. Watch this news interview from Democracy Now.
June 12, 2015 – US military’s sonar exercises still threatening sea mammals (NEW VIDEO) A just-published, thoughtful 19-minute documentary that presents new evidence and asks the question: ” Over the past decades, hundreds of whales and other sea creatures have been mysteriously washing up in beaches around the world, raising concerns from the environmental community: just how much damage have military sonars done to life under the sea?”
“I’m seeing everything in this ocean flee for its life from this sound.” – Dr. Ken Balcomb, whale researcher, ex-Navy sonar technician.
June 3, 2015 – Resistance is NOT futile: A front-page article in today’s Whidbey Island News-Times implies that public “resistance” on the Olympic Peninsula sounds a tad illogical, given the Navy’s innocuously-described plans to drive truck-mounted mobile electronic warfare emitters on national forest roads while conducting testing and training with electronic attack jets overhead.
The 3,300 public comments, all but 31 opposed, are a “problem” for the Navy, because the Forest Service is taking them seriously enough to have hired a contractor and delayed the decision on issuing the permit into early 2016. Truth be told, lack of a full and transparent public process is what’s been the real problem, but we digress.
The same tedious claims as before are made in the Whidbey Times news article, that no animals or humans will be harmed because there will be a 100-foot warning hazard perimeter around each truck in the remote national forest locations they propose to operate in. The trouble with that statement is what it left out:
First, it’s not just the mobile emitters, it’s the radar detection systems from the jets overhead that people are worried about. Watch this video from Northrop-Grumman to see why.
Second, the public is mostly unaware that four temporary one-year permits were granted by the Forest Service to the Navy, from 2010-2014, to drive a vehicle on forest roads while conducting electronic warfare training.
Third, the public was led to believe by both the Navy and the Forest Service that the only place these emitters would be deployed is the road system within the Olympic National Forest. However, an email from the Navy to the Forest Service, written in 2012 (and copying John Mosher, the official quoted in the Whidbey Times article) was obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request, and it indicates that the Navy plans to drive mobile emitters, and may already be driving them, “on existing roads and trails throughout the Olympic Peninsula within and in the vicinity of the Olympic MOA and in the vicinity of the Okanogan and Roosevelt MOAs.” This included driving them “…all through most of the region as well as outside the geographic confines of the MOAs to optimize and vary training scenarios (dependent on road and area availability),” in order for Electronic Warfare aircrews to “…rehearse and develop real-world tactics, techniques, and procedures under scenarios where stationary emitter signals are emanating for example from Pacific Beach and other potential sites and pop-up mobile emitter signals are received from varied geographic locations within realistic range-ring distances.”
A copy of the temporary permit issued in 2013 shows a map on page 5, of all major public roads on the Peninsula being used for this purpose.
Fourth, types of training listed include “…close-air support, modified escort profiles, general EW tactical proficiency, and War-at-Sea training.” Ships at sea using the emitters were among many things not discussed in the Navy’s official documentation. Nor was the radiation from jets overhead, nor fire danger, nor a lot of things listed in previous posts.
There has been no permit applied for by the Navy, nor issued by the Washington Department of Transportation, for electronic warfare on public roads. It begs the question: if a 100-foot hazard perimeter is required on remote forest roads, then how does the Navy propose to protect civilians on public roads, and why did it not tell the public it was already doing this? The public has the right to be kept informed, and to question the government when it is being disingenuous and untruthful with us.
May 28, 2015 – Are existing training ranges being adequately managed and maximized? Evidence points to no. Here is a diagram of the training ranges in the Pacific Northwest, from a May 2012 report titled “Maps and Inventory of Ranges, Range Complexes, Military Training Routes, and Special Use Areas.” The report includes worldwide maps of training ranges, and there are a lot. Naval Air Station Whidbey Island manages an enormous acreage of training ranges, as shown in maps and descriptions in a Navy manual posted on this web site.
In a 2005 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) called, “Military Training: Better Planning and Funding Priority Needed to Improve Conditions of Military Training Ranges,” the GAO showed that ranges everywhere are deteriorating and have failed to modernize. Of all branches of the Armed Services, the Navy has done the poorest job of implementing the 8 suggested management actions for improvement; in addition, a report on Navy range utilization, also requested by the GAO, is more than a decade overdue. Why? Inefficiencies in management of existing ranges are likely contributing to the current encroachment by the Navy on public and private lands. Is it fair that the Navy invades new places when they won’t even take care of the old ones? Is it fair that some ranges aren’t even being used while the Navy wants more land? Is it right that scheduling squabbles among branches of the Armed Services justify taking over the Olympic National Forest and the wilderness skies over Olympic National Park? If any of us tried that we’d be told by our neighbors to clean up our own act. Is the Navy being a good neighbor? Most people don’t think so.
May 23, 2015 – Alaskan fishing boats link in giant flotilla to protest Navy’s plans to bomb Gulf of Alaska – article in San Francisco Chronicle online.
For an in-depth summary of what’s happening in the Gulf of Alaska, read the most recent article in the Huffington Post, by Dahr Jamail: “Destroying What Remains.”
Speaking for fishermen and residents of Cordova, Eyak Preservation Council spokeswoman Emily Stolarcyk said, “We wouldn’t have these concerns if the navy had started with adequate information, but the research was not done.”
Does anyone recognize a pattern here?
Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) agreed. “We’ve had a chance to ask our questions, but we’ve not been satisfied with the answers. That’s not acceptable. It’s important for them to have an opportunity to train but it can’t be at the expense of the fisheries that are so critical to the region,” she said in this TV interview, which also shows naval activities in the Gulf: http://www.ktva.com/murkowski-mediates-conflict-between-alaska-fishermen-navy-770/
But the Navy disagrees. “We’re not sinking anything or dropping bombs, there won’t be an aircraft carrier so the studies examine the wide range of activities that might be permissible without harming the environment,” said Alaska Command chief of plans Capt. Raymond J. Hesser. ”And we’re not even coming close to that this year.”
Unfortunately, the Navy’s own documents belie Hesser’s claims. In their summary page on the proposed alternatives and what they chose, the Navy says it will be conducting “…one large-scale carrier strike group exercise for up to 21 consecutive days during summer months (April through October),” plus “…one additional carrier strike group exercise during summer months (April through October),” and “… one sinking exercise per carrier strike group exercise for a total of two per year.” There’s more, too. It’s pretty hard to reconcile these written statements with Hesser’s, and this is why the public no longer trusts the Navy to tell the truth. The truth about Navy electronic warfare training is that the Navy isn’t playing straight with the public.
You can read a summary of more statements about activities in the Gulf of Alaska that will impact endangered salmon runs from Washington, Oregon and California, too, on the Eyak Preservation Council’s Navy Fact Sheet. And while you’re at it, visit and like their Facebook page to keep up with activities up there, because it’s all connected.
May 17, 2015 – Flood of public comments pushes back Forest Service decision to issue permit for Navy to operate its electronic warfare movie emitters on national forest roads: http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20150517/NEWS/305179982
May 14, 2015 – The Truth about Navy Electronic Warfare Training: From an oft-placed editorial by Captain Mike Nortier, in charge of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island: “Myth: The Navy will be flying at low altitudes and at supersonic speeds. Fact: The Navy has no intention of flying at low altitudes or at speeds above the sound barrier. The mission requires the aircraft to be able to directly observe the emitters, typically flying at altitudes of 10,000 feet or greater. Low altitude flight does not support the training. Supersonic flight above the United States is controlled by the FAA plus, when our planes conduct this training, they do not fly supersonic.”
From the Navy’s own Youtube videos, the reality: https://m.youtube.com/watch?sns=fb&v=kQZBDVmuH1M.
Any third-grader can see this is not flying above 10,000 feet, or 6,000 feet or even 1,000 feet. So why are the eyewitness accounts of low-flying jets, by hikers, campers, hunters, fishers and homeowners being discounted? Not everyone agrees that the sound of freedom is 100-plus decibels of jet noise. The sound of freedom is also the sound of silence. The Navy and its supporters keep arguing that citizens who ask for a more transparent public process are unpatriotic. We are not against the Navy training its pilots. We just want a fair public process, which means a full, comprehensive EIS instead of this mess of dozens of separate and segmented processes that confuse and obstruct the real issues from being understood. That is not too much to ask for in a democracy, is it?
May 12, 2015 – Compelling interview with Dr. Martin Pall, Professor Emeritus, Washington State University, and one of the world’s foremost experts on the far-reaching biological effects of EMF radiation. 12-minute version. 36-minute version.
Dr Pall directly challenges the Navy’s public documents from September 2014, that claim electromagnetic radiation outputs from the proposed fixed and mobile emitters will be properly monitored and/or meet safety standards for human and animal populations not within the immediate vicinity of the emitters, and that according to the Navy, “no significant impacts on biological resources will occur.” Also see: “Documents Show Navy’s Electromagnetic Warfare Training Would Harm Humans and Wildlife,” by Dahr Jamail, Truthout, December 15, 2014
May 8, 2015 – Bombing the Gulf of Alaska to Commence June 15, 2015:
May 3, 2015 – The Truth About Navy Electronic Warfare Training
First, some numbers: 260 days per year, 8-16 hours per day, up to 153 of the loudest jets on the planet, capable of 150 decibels, burning 1304 gallons per hour and producing more carbon dioxide in one hour of flying than the average Washington citizen produces in a year or a car produces in 29,000 miles of driving—flying right over Washington’s spectacular and famously quiet Olympic Peninsula.
Next, a few facts: The Navy sneaked its Environmental Assessment past the public in August 2014, so thoroughly that not one public comment arrived from elected officials, tribes or individuals. One notice served the entire north and west Olympic Peninsula: an 8X11’ piece of paper in the Forks post office. The Navy then closed the 15-day comment period, declared no significant impacts, implied no public interest, and said nothing further needs be done. It even sent a letter to the Fish and Wildlife Service saying don’t bother to re-open consultation on endangered species.
After the public learned about this sleight of hand, 4,000 comments poured in to the Forest Service, 3300 of them before the comment period closed, 99.9% opposed. Yet the Forest Service, a science-based agency that did no independent investigation of its own to verify the Navy’s claims, has announced it plans to adopt that flawed EA and issue a permit to drive mobile emitters on forest roads. Is that legal? READ MORE…
April 28, 2015 – Citizens ask Court for Injunction to Halt “Irreparable Injury” Caused by Navy’s Low-Flying “Growler” Attack Jets. Also see these articles: http://www.islandsweekly.com/news/304132211.html and http://www.whidbeylocal.com/guide/blog/2015/05/725/citizens-ask-island-count
Update, May 16 – Members of COER and others who have suffered from the Growler jet noise on Whidbey Island confront the County Commissioners for their lack of protection. (Video.)
April 26, 2015 – A few things the Navy refuses to tell the public: Despite past rulings by federal courts saying that faulty impacts analyses in a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) process may subject the government to financial liability later, the Navy has provided no analysis in its official documents on any of the following topics, because it claimed in its Environmental Assessment (EA) that it only analyzed impacts that are “truly meaningful.” Which leaves out the following:
- Socioeconomic impacts to communities from increased jet noise and air pollution;
- Impacts to wilderness values in Olympic National Park;
- Cultural factors, including traditional uses of land;
- Analysis of multiple stressors on humans, endangered species, and other wildlife;
- Analysis of chronic radiation effects on humans, wildlife and habitats, including aquatic. There was no mention in the EA of the U.S. Department of Interior’s February 7, 2014 critique of the FCC’s outdated dismissal of radiation concerns, see http://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/us_doi_comments.pdf
- Evaluation of the protection of children, environmental justice, water, land use, and geology;
- Analyses on population effects on threatened bird species, particularly the cumulative effects of noise and electromagnetic radiation on the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet, in whose critical habitat areas most of the Navy’s emitter sites will be located;
- Analysis of the effects of electromagnetic radiation and loud sounds on migrating shorebirds, geese, ducks, and other non-listed birds;
- Cost analysis for jet fuel savings as claimed in EA;
- Analysis of other sites as alternatives to the Olympic MOA (Military Operating Area,) including private lands;
- Disclosure of the Navy’s intent to drive outside MOA boundaries to “maximize” realistic training scenarios;
- Disclosure that the Forest Service has already issued four permits, from 2010-2015, to the Navy for use of Olympic National Forest roads;
- Analysis of the increased fire danger posed by jet and drone crashes, sparks from vehicle transmitters or operators’ cigarettes, or misdirected electromagnetic beams from either the transmitters or from jets, hitting tinder-dry vegetation;
- Analysis of the interaction and effects of climate change as a potential magnifier of impacts.
If you disagree with the Navy’s assertion that these are not truly meaningful, demand that a full and comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process be initiated to cover all impacts that were never analyzed. The Forest Service should not let the Navy use our public lands without demanding a full accounting, via an EIS that the public can follow, understand, and participate in. We should not allow the Forest Service to accept the Navy’s claim of “no significant impacts” when we know full well that claim is untrue.
April 18, 2015 – “I got 130 decibels on my front porch!” Watch this video interview in the home of a young couple with children, who want to move but can’t sell their house on Whidbey Island because of jet noise.
US Navy Noise Complaints:
Call (360) 257-6665
Email: NASWI@navy.mil and comments.NASWI@navy.mil,
Contact Public Affairs Officer Michael Welding,
firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com
360-257-2286, FAX (360) 257-3972
Whidbey Base C.O. Captain Michael Nortier,
360-257-2345, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, firstname.lastname@example.org
Also: Rep Derek Kilmer, 202-225-5916; Rep Rick Larsen, 202-225-2605, Fax: 202-225-4420; Senator Maria Cantwell, 202-224-3441, Fax: 202-228-0514; and Senator Patty Murray, 202-224-2621, Fax (202) 224-0238
April 14, 2015 – What are “substantive” comments? In public meetings last autumn, people were told repeatedly by the Forest Service and the Navy that their comments were not substantive, which was code for “What you say doesn’t count.” It’s true that most people are not lawyers or bureaucrats who happen to know the exact language that will resonate with other bureaucrats charged with deciding whether the Navy gets to take over the Olympic National Forest’s roads for electronic warfare games 260 days a year. But does that mean the average citizen’s comments don’t count? Passionate opposition borne of a deep love for the forests, mountains, oceans and wild creatures of the Olympic Peninsula is a powerful force. To discount that is unwise and arrogant. Public policy made with such arrogance is hollow and ineffective.
For a more reflective take on what “substantive” comments really are, visit artist Terra Holcomb’s page, at: http://substantivecomments.tumblr.com
April 11, 2015 – If you want to learn more about what the Navy is doing to endangered species such as whales, Steller sea lions, sea turtles, and endangered salmon species, read this Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, a lawsuit by EarthJustice on behalf of the Intertribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, People for Puget Sound, Friends of the San Juans, and Friends of the Earth, and afterward, consider lending your own support to one or more of these groups, or to one or more of the groups in this Alliance. There are a lot of good people out there working for a more peaceful and less destructive co-existence with nature.
The National Marine Fisheries Service approved an 1100 percent increase in the amount of harm the Navy could inflict on marine mammals in Pacific waters surrounding Hawaii and Southern California. The lawsuit mentioned above (and further described on the right side of this page) caused a federal judge to say “Not so fast.” For a few months until a final decision is made, whales get a breather in these waters, but not in the North Pacific or in the Gulf of Alaska, where during war games each year the Navy wants to drop 350,000 lbs of explosives, sink two ships, and conduct high- and mid-frequency sonar testing and exercising with subs – right in the middle of one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world. In addition to the enormous numbers of whales found in this area, Alaska’s salmon fishery as well as the salmon from runs in Washington and Oregon are at risk. Here is a description from the lawsuit that describes the effects of this activity on fish:
“High-intensity sound has been shown to reduce the viability of fish eggs and to cause developmental damage in young fish. Intense sound can kill eggs, larvae, and fry outright or retard their growth in ways that may hinder their survival later. It has also been shown to injure the ears and lateral lines necessary for hearing in adult fish. Intense sound may also have harmful resonance impacts on fish with swim bladders, particularly larger pelagic fish such as tuna. Because fish rely on hearing to locate prey and avoid predators, affects to their hearing both impair their ability to find food and increase their vulnerability to predation.”
April 9, 2015 – Spotted owl slipping toward the brink of extinction: The US Fish and Wildlife Service has issued a positive 90-day finding on a petition to reclassify the status of the northern spotted owl from threatened to endangered. A press release from the Environmental Protection Information Center and an article in today’s Seattle Times explain what’s happening, but to use a metaphor, the spotted owl is being pushed to extinction by a perfect storm of symptoms: habitat loss, competition from the aggressive barred owl, and now, extreme noise and disruption from Navy jets. The spotted owl occupies some of the quietest habitat in North America. Yet the owls have abandoned perfectly usable nesting habitat along the Washington coast and for several miles inland, where, coincidentally, Navy jets swoop in at low altitude, heedless of the fact that NOAA is supposed to control the airspace from 2000 feet to the surface.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is re-evaluating potential effects by the Navy’s proposed testing and training on endangered and threatened species. A Biological Opinion is due in October, about the same time the Forest Service has already announced it may adopt the Navy’s Environmental Assessment (in which not a single public comment was received because nobody knew about it) and issue a Special Use Permit for the Navy to go ahead with its testing and training, both of which invade critical habitat for the owl and the marbled murrelet. Is this right or fair? Is it legal? No.
April 5, 2015 – A New List of Facts on Noise, Hearing Loss and Health Problems caused by Navy Jets – FROM OLYMPIC PENINSULA ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS: “The Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, the people who have been fighting the Navy’s expansion and noise issues on Whidbey Island for decades, put together this short list of facts that are worth noting. Those of us on the Olympic Peninsula, especially those who might be affected by the Navy’s latest expansion of electronic warfare training, should clearly understand what they are facing with the proposed expansion of the Whidbey base. We do have a choice, at least on paper, to stop this expansion. So here’s some facts to think about when the Navy (or our politicians) claims that they can ‘mitigate’ the noise.” http://olyopen.com/2015/04/03/a-new-list-of-facts-from-the-citizens-for-ebeys-landing/
This research paper describes the components of military jet noise and why it is so different (and damaging) as opposed to commercial jet noise: http://www.hpc.mil/images/hpcmpo_images/featured/bres_12jun13.pdf
April 4, 2015 – Mixing Bombs and Residential Areas: Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training in Crescent Harbor
FROM NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND: “The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Detachment Northwest from NAS Whidbey Island will conduct explosive demolition operations in Crescent Harbor, Whidbey Island, from April 08-10, 2015.”
Note: Crescent Harbor is surrounded by residential areas that include an elementary school.
“All demolition operations will occur during daylight hours at grid location: N48°17’00”, W122°35’25”. Water plumes and ground vibration may result from these operations. Safety precautions have been taken to ensure operations pose no threat to people or property.”
Note: Fish and wildlife are noticeably absent from these unspecified safety precautions, and Crescent Harbor is considered a salmon recovery area.
“If you have questions or concerns, please call the Public Affairs Office at NAS Whidbey Island, (360) 257-2286.”
Note: This writer called that number and got a recording. Perhaps a call to your elected representatives might be more effective. For names and numbers, click here: http://westcoastactionalliance.org/location
April 2, 2015 – Challenging an agency’s denial of your FOIA request: The Freedom of Information Act is a law and a powerful tool that allows citizens to monitor government. Information collected and kept by the government belongs to the people. But more and more, agencies are denying requests for information, or are only partially supplying the information asked for. You have to learn how to be so specific with your request that reasons for agency denial are removed. This article from the Native American Journalists Association explains how in plain language: https://www.naja.com/
JET NOISE ALL WEEK.
Flight Operations Schedule at OLF Coupeville the Week of March 29 – April 4, 2015
NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. –Field Carrier Landing Practice (FLCP) operations for aircraft stationed at NAS Whidbey Island are scheduled to occur at the Outlying Field (OLF) in Coupeville, Wash., Monday, March 30 through Friday, April 3, 2015.
On Monday, March 30, FCLP training at OLF Coupeville is scheduled from evening to late night. On Tuesday, March 31, FCLP training is scheduled from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. On Wednesday, April 1, FCLP training is scheduled from mid-morning to mid-afternoon, then again from evening to late night. On Thursday, April 2, FCLP training is scheduled from mid-morning to mid-afternoon, then again evening to late night, and on Friday, April 3, FCLP training is scheduled from mid-morning to mid-afternoon.
This is not why any of us moved to this spectacular and quiet corner of the world.
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!
Congressman Rick Larsen will be at the Coupeville Rec Hall on Whidbey Island on Tuesday evening at 6:30. This is a good chance to ask him some hard questions about jet noise and other issues.
CALL CONGRESSMAN DEREK KILMER: 202-225-5916.
CALL WASHINGTON’S TWO SILENT SENATORS.
MARIA CANTWELL: 202-224-3441. PATTY MURRAY: 202-224-2621.
CALL GOVERNOR INSLEE: 390-902-4111.
CALL YOUR STATE LEGISLATORS. NUMBERS HERE: http://westcoastactionalliance.org/location
March 26, 2015 – An Airborne Electronic Warfare Officer and veteran of Vietnam wrote this thought-provoking essay back in November, but the message remains fresh: One Overreach Too Far, by Gene Marx. http://www.vfpbellingham.org/
March 23, 2015 – The Forest Service wants to change the NW Forest Plan, which would loosen protections that have helped to keep marbled murrelets and spotted owls from becoming extinct. One public meeting in each state (WA, OR and CA) has been deemed enough by the Forest Service to gauge public opinion. Sadly, nothing could be further from adequate than that. A congressional delegation from all three states wrote a letter asking them to consider holding more meetings, but no meetings have been announced. Senators Cantwell and Murray did not sign that letter, but Rep Derek Kilmer did. For a complete record of all documents pertaining to the Northwest Forest Plan, go here: http://reo.ordvac.com/
March 21, 2015 – UPDATE: Admiralty Audubon program, summary on use of drones for observing and counting wildlife populations: Each year, use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS or ‘drones’) is increasing, but what are the consequences to wildlife? A pilot(less) project on closed Refuge islands along the outer coast of Washington assessed the level of disturbance to seabirds and marine mammals. On March 19, Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Biologist Sue Thomas presented results from test flights of two different types of units, including a fixed wing “Puma” and a rotary blade “Quadracopter” model, both owned and operated by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.) Ms. Thomas showed the audience what different levels of disturbance look like in cormorants, murres, sea lions and sea otters, but because of the sensitivity and threatened status of marbled murrelets, no assessments could be made on them.
Every species seems to have a different tolerance for disturbance, with otters having the least and cormorants and murres having more. Notable also was the surprising fact that spotted owls have abandoned habitats immediately accessible to the entire Washington coast and for several miles inland. The good news is that unmanned aircraft are fairly quiet and can get close enough to take overhead photos for counting purposes without disturbance (as opposed to manned helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.) The bad news is that abuse of drones by unauthorized users could harass wildlife and cause nesting birds to abandon their eggs. But the good news about that is that NOAA controls the airspace to 2,000 feet above sea level, from the outer coast to the edge of the National Marine Sanctuary. Unfortunately, the Navy does not seem to respect that, and a jet swooped in at low altitude while the team of biologists was evaluating the use of drones, creating a situation that could have been dangerous had the unmanned aircraft been flying in the jet’s path. While the noise was extremely loud, a colony of murres and cormorants simply stared at the jet and did not fly away. Speculation on why they didn’t move could include the idea that the noise was so all-pervasive and surrounding that there was no clear direction of escape, and thus the birds hunkered down in place.
March 17, 2015 – A Noise Onslaught: Touch-and-Go landings at OLF (Outlying Field) Naval Air Station Whidbey Island are going on this week. Today, the schedule is constant noise from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, with a dinner break from 4:30 to 7:30. The roars are loud even many miles away. Here’s a video of one minute out of twelve hours of this noise in Port Townsend, which is more than 10 miles from Naval Air Station Whidbey. Residents of Whidbey Island, who were promised “fewer flights with quieter planes,” are being subjected to this, residents of Lopez Island in the San Juans are enduring this, and residents of Northeast Washington are living through this every day. The San Juan County Jet Aircraft Noise Reporting line had 350 emails between 1/1/15 and 1/29/15.
The effects of unmuffled military jet noise on humans and animals is significant. This video documents it. The effect on property values is also significant; according to the FAA, the range is “…from a 0.6 to 2.3 percent decrease in property value per decibel increase of cumulative noise exposure.”
However, the Navy, which portrays itself as wanting to be good neighbor, says jet noise is not a problem in surrounding communities because they aren’t getting any complaints. That’s not true, of course, but they don’t share the numbers of calls they get on their complaint hotline. Still, it’s worth making the call to the Navy: 360-257-6665. Or email them at: comments.NASWI@navy.mil Or go here and download a form to fill out.
In San Juan County you can go online, here, to report annoying jet noise and see how many others are also reporting it. On Whidbey Island or in surrounding communities you can call the hotline that was started by Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, at: 1-800-830-4078
The effects of noise on the economies of surrounding communities, which rely on tourism, is huge. The tourism industry is the third largest retail industry in the United States, behind only automotive dealers and food stores. The Olympic National Park attracts more than 3 million visitors per year, who contribute $250 million to the local economy. The area over which the Navy will be flying and around which it will be operating its sea-based warfare training activities contributes a total of nearly one billion dollars per year to Washington’s economy, and that’s just expenditures on public lands. Wildlife viewing, photographing and watching is the top expenditure category. A clean and quiet environment is directly linked to this economic engine.
March 9, 2015 – Domestic Military Expansion Spreads Through the US, Ignites Dissent. ~by Dahr Jamail, Truthout. Also see this article from May 22, 2015: http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/30939-jade-helm-15-is-not-a-federal-takeover-it-s-domestic-military-expansion?tmpl=component&print=1
Notes from an internal conference call, January 2013.
Forest Service employees saw problems early on with the Navy’s proposed activities. A Forest Service “comment matrix” received via a Freedom of Information Act request contains 26 comments, all from Forest Service employees. Here are three examples:
1. “Effects analysis for other wildlife species outside of ESA-listed is vague and nearly non-existent especially with electromagnetic analysis.”
2. “Site 2 on Mt. Hull [Roosevelt-Okanogan Military Operating area near Canadian border] may be somewhat sensitive to local populations since some think there already is a hidden military based under Summit Lake where Blackhawk helicopters fly out of.” Navy answer: “Understood. Please note that Blackhawk helicopters are not Navy platforms. Believe these are boarder Patrol and Anti-Drug assets. Our activities only involve the use of established roads and pull-outs by vehicles.”
3. “Based on your scoping, if done, I do not see any list of the issues raised by the public or internally about this project. This is something that the Forest Service would normally incorporate in Chapter 1.” Navy answer: “The Navy is in compliance with 5090.1D and does not require public scoping for an EA.”
March 2, 2015: Important update to a query on whether any permits were issued by the Washington Department of Transportation to the Navy, to drive its mobile emitters on public roads while emitting and conducting electromagnetic warfare testing and training in populated civilian areas – the Washington DOT responded, “A very diligent search was conducted and there does not appear to have been any permits issued, or any changes or modifications done to the highway system regarding the training referenced in your public disclosure request.” For more information, go to the Documents – Federal Agencies page. If no permit has been issued or is required to drive mobile emitters on public roads in populated areas while conducting EWR training, when on forest roads they must be surrounded by a 100-foot radiation hazard perimeter tape, then perhaps a permit should be required. Write to your State Legislators and demand a change in State DOT policy.
March 1, 2015: New “Scientific Reports” tab in dropdown menu under “Documents.”
February 27, 2015: Washington DNR refuses to let the Navy use forest roads for electronic training. Here is a copy of the letter from the Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands to the Navy.
February 25, 2015: Jet noise over our communities is increasing. A former pilot has advised: “If you hear a jet with a sense of ‘presence,’ unlike a passenger jet flying at 25 – 35,000 feet, the jet you hear is likely flying at lower altitudes of between 2000 and 4000 feet. The next time you hear a jet, please do 2 things: 1) realize it just entered your consciousness, and 2) call this number – 360-257-6665. This is the Navy’s jet noise complaint line. The Navy says jet noise is not bad in PT because they never get any calls on their complaint line.
February 25, 2015: Comment letter from Protect the Peninsula’s Future on the Navy’s plans for building a new pier in Port Angeles Harbor for its submarine escort vessels. Comment period ended February 25, 2015.
February 22, 2015: “Parks Service Surveys The Environment’s Accoustical Health,” NPR News.
February 20, 2015: As a result of a recent Freedom of Information Act request, here is a 2012 email from the Navy to the Forest Service containing the following statement: “Mobile emitters will be transported all through most of the region as well as outside the geographic confines of the MOAs [Military Operating Areas in the Olympic National Forest] to optimize and vary training scenarios (dependent on road and area availability).” This begs the question: Where else will electromagnetic warfare training occur? This Temporary Special Use Permit from 2013 indicates on the map on page 5 that public roads on the North and West Olympic Peninsula may also be used. These are populated areas. Does the Navy have a permit from the State Department of Transportation for this? The public has not been told about the intent to drive mobile emitters throughout the region conducting electronic warfare testing and training in populated areas. More information under the tab called “Documents – Federal Agencies.”
February 19, 2015 – Harassment and intimidation by Navy personnel
Update, April 4, 2015 – Sadly, this: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3022005/Book-songs-used-U-S-Air-Force-contains-horrifying-lyrics-rape-pedophilia-homosexuality.html
Please consider signing this petition from Care2. More than 67,000 signatures.
EarthJustice Petition on sonar’s lethal effects on whales.
NEW: Three Olympic Peninsula residents appeal to the Secretary of the Interior and others to “Stop Targeting a UNESCO World Heritage Site for Electromagnetic Warfare training.” Help this new petition go viral.
January 27, 2015: Letter from Member of Parliament Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands) to US Ambassador Bruce Alan Heyman on US Navy exercises and jet noise over southern Vancouver Island.
February 7, 2015: SIX Public Processes in ONE Year for ONE Pacific Northwest issue!
January 29, 2015: An Electronic Warfare Range (EWR) Opponent’s Opinion of Derek Kilmer’s Town Hall Meeting ~by Ron Richards, spokesperson for Protect the Peninsula’s Future (PPF). Published in Port O Call, an online news and comment publication.