Roadmap to a Remedy

Revised by the Sound Defense Alliance, March 2022

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For decades, NW Washington State communities have hosted the U.S. military in its mission of protecting our national security. But over the past decade the balance between civilian and military needs has shifted and now our communities have become collateral damage of the Navy’s EA18-G “Growler” jet program. The extreme jet noise has caused health, educational, environmental, and economic impacts, putting all of the Northern Puget Sound and the Greater Salish Sea region at risk.

Growlers are some of the loudest aircraft in the world and not suited for training over places like the Olympic National Park, Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, and the San Juan Islands National Monument, let alone schools, hospitals, neighborhoods, state and municipal parks, and recognized historic structures. Their noise threatens the health, safety, and economic well-being of residents and visitors across the region.

We recognize that there are significant problems nationwide with military aviation training that go beyond the scope of this Road Map but which we encourage Congress to examine. Examples include: the unwarranted reliance upon the use of Day/Night Noise Level (DNL) averaging to the exclusion of individual noise event metrics; and the use of 65 DNL instead of the current world standard of 55 DNL. Congress should also require the Navy to re-examine its policy of single-siting all of the nation’s electronic warfare aircraft.

The Sound Defense Alliance (SDA) is ready to work with the Navy on long-term solutions that meet the Navy’s need to train while protecting the communities, the environment, endangered species and the resources of our state. The Navy is developing technologies that accomplish the Electronic Warfare mission with a much-reduced impact on local communities. SDA has confidence that the U.S. Navy can meet the needs of national defense and also be a good community partner.

SDA is not advocating for the closure of the Naval Air Station in Oak Harbor (NASWI), but is seeking to bring a new balance between military and civilian communities. SDA encourages economic diversification and defends policies and institutions designed to protect our communities and to preserve our land, air, water, and wildlife.

SDA was founded to seek a partnership with the military to achieve long-term solutions for unacceptable noise impacts on the people that they serve.

Objectives of the Road Map

  • Ensure Navy compliance with congressional intent with regard to the NDAA requirement for a “real time noise monitoring” study

  • Retain NASWI

  • Provide a long-term solution to reducing Growler noise over Northwest Washington and stop the damage to

    communities, education and the environment

  • Preserve three National treasures: the Olympic National Park, Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve,

    and the San Juan Islands National Monument

  • Protect the water recharge area at OLF Coupeville, the location of Central Whidbey’s single-source aquifer

  • Improve economic sustainability, especially to the outdoor recreation and tourism sectors

  • Alleviate the housing crisis in Island and Skagit Counties

  • Protect critically endangered species such as the Southern Resident Killer Whales

  • Promote a balance between military and community needs in Northwest Washington and improve the

    military-civilian partnership

Step 1: Comply with the Congressional intent of the 2021 NDAA Real-time Noise Monitoring Study to record incident noise by December, 2021

• The Navy noise field monitoring was accomplished in 2021; however the published report was incomplete and inadequate, and failed to satisfy congressional intent.

Step 2: Record of Decision – VOID the Record of Decision (ROD) and return to the Navy’s No Action EIS Alternative - Immediately
  • No increase in the number of EA18-G Growlers stationed at NASWI; return to the number of Growlers based at NASWI pre-ROD

  • Reduce all Electronic Warfare Training operations over and on the Olympic Peninsula to pre-ROD levels

  • Minimize local pattern operation training and related safety risks and economic/environmental impacts, as

    follows:​​

    • Return to and maintain the Navy’s pre-ROD cap of 6,120 operations annually at OLF Coupeville as designated in the 2005 Air Installation Compatible Use Zone report (including the 50/50 split between the two tracks)

    • Limit Growler pattern operations at Ault Field to reduce impacts on Deception Pass, Fidalgo Island, San Juan Islands, and the Olympic Peninsula and to minimize load on intersecting runways

    • No pattern operations at Ault or OLF Coupeville, on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays or holidays. No high intensity years

    • Revise DNL calculations and presentations to include average annual day and average busy day o Navy provides ground monitoring to ensure pilots observe the established proper training altitudes and stay within published flight paths

    • The Navy would immediately begin notifying the impacted public of real time (day of flying) pattern operations, times and runway (track)

  • Navy completes its clean-up of fire-fighting foam contamination of drinking water in Central Whidbey, Coupeville, and Oak Harbor

  • Navy suspends all pattern operations during air quality alerts in Northwest WA

  • The Navy adds SDA to their existing regularly scheduled “community leaders” meetings

  • The DOD should perform a new Growler siting EIS examining appropriate siting location(s)

Step 3: Navy will replace Growlers with next generation, non-impacting high-tech assets at NASWI

Step 4: Re-site EA18-G Growler EMR Mission - within 5 years of voiding the ROD
  • Cease all military aviation operations at OLF Coupeville; and remove the Radome and facilities related to

    Growler electronic warfare training mission from OLF Coupeville

  • Cease Navy’s military training over/in National and State Parks, Reserves, and National Monument sites in

    Northern Puget Sound and the Greater Salish Sea region

  • All Growler squadrons have been moved from NASWI; other low impact aviation missions remain