To Whom It May Concern:
I am a U.S. military veteran. I support our armed forces and appreciate the role each branch plays in protecting our way of life. I also accept the necessity for military readiness training, as personnel change, equipment evolves, and/or deployment demands shift. I reside on Camano Island, directly in the path of one of Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island’s carrier landing practice vectors. We’ve lived with and willingly tolerated the periodic but relatively unobtrusive training cycles of the Navy’s “Prowler” wing for almost two decades, without objection. However, recent changes by the Navy to the much louder and more intrusive “Growler” aircraft has severely challenged our ability to passively coexist with these overflights. Even more concerning is the announcement of substantial expansion of the Growler wing (in numbers of planes and frequency/intensity of overflight activity). This represents a “clear and present danger” to the safety, health, quality-of-life, and economic welfare of everyone living in (or visiting) the North Puget Sound. The North Sound’s population has grown exponentially since NAS Whidbey Island was originally sited (circa 1942). What once was an isolated, largely rural agricultural region, has grown to population concentrations, and associated housing, business, and infrastructure investment levels that rival those of the present Central Puget Sound metro area. As a result, damaging impacts, directly attributable to NAS Whidbey activities, are now being imposed upon substantially greater numbers of individuals and businesses than ever anticipated. The weaponry currently being employed or projected for deployment at Whidbey NAS, likewise, is vastly more complex and dangerous. With the proposed increases in flight training intensity, the statistical probability of the occurrence of a serious accident becomes incalculably greater. Again, the population vulnerable to either direct or collateral injury or death is immensely more numerous than even ten years ago, and is expected to continue to grow rapidly. To be clear, serious harm to the North Sound’s population is not confined to a catastrophic flight accident. Indeed, the current level of the NAS Whidbey Growler activities impose significant direct harm to the health, safety, and economic wellbeing of the entire population in this region. In an era when the F.A.A. is imposing ever-greater restrictions on commercial flight noise-levels throughout the nation’s civilian airport network, specifically intended to protect adjacent populations, it’s inexplicable that significantly greater injurious noise-levels are presently being imposed by NAS Whidbey upon proximate populations.
A precedent for substantially altering U.S. Naval air station utilization, in response to civilian population growth and development, can be found immediately south of Island County. I refer to the “former” Sand Point Naval Air Station, on Lake Washington. How long would the residents of Seattle, Mercer Island, Bellevue, Bothell, Kirkland, Redmond, and adjacent neighborhoods put up with the Growler training wing conducting touch-and-go landing practice, day and night, were the Sand Point NAS still in operation? Not long! And, yes, they are functionally equivalent circumstances. No one who purchased a home or otherwise invested their lives and livelihoods in the North Sound region could have reasonably foreseen the Navy’s decision to employ such a destructive, disruptive, and physically injurious technology, as that imposed by the training regime of the Growler wing at NAS Whidbey Island. The decisionmakers who are charged with the responsibility to protect the health, welfare, safety, and economic wellbeing of the citizens of the North Sound region must intervene on behalf of the civilian and military families who suffer, through no fault of their own, from the use of NAS Whidbey complex for Growler training.
Dr. Lewis E. Queirolo, Ph.D.
National Oceanic and
Senior Regional Economist (ret.)