Judge: Growler flights continue

Navy must redo impact statement

WHIDBEY ISLAND — A U.S. District Judge has ruled that jet training flights over Whidbey Island can continue even as the Navy is ordered to redo its environmental impact statement concerning the impacts of noise and emissions on the area.

In an order issued Friday in the Western District of Washington, Judge Richard Jones wrote that while the Navy underreported the true amount of fuel emissions from flights, failed to take a hard look at species-specific impact on birds and failed to analyze impacts on childhood learning, stopping the flights would pose a risk to national security.

“The Navy’s submissions provide substantial support for the conclusion that the increased Growler presence for training at (Naval Outlying Landing Field) Coupeville is essential for national security,” Jones wrote. “The Court must greatly defer to senior military officials’ professional judgments.”

The lawsuit centers around the noise and emissions generated by EA-18 Growler aircraft — a version of the F-18 — which are typically based on aircraft carriers.

The Coupeville airfield is located in central Whidbey Island south of Oak Harbor and about 7½ miles from Port Townsend, and residents as far away as Blyn have complained of the noise from flights, which can take place late at night.

The Navy first filed an EIS for the jet program in 2012, but litigation concerning flight operations at Coupeville date back to 1992, according to court documents.

The current lawsuit was filed in 2019 by Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Citizens of Ebeys Reserve when the Navy sought to increase the number of training flights by 33 percent.

The Navy must still fix the shortcomings of its previous EIS and Record of Decision as it seeks to expand the Growler program.

“The Navy’s FEIS and ROD fell short in several respects which may need to be fully considered on remand,” Jones wrote.

However, “the Court cannot say that once the Navy considers these shortcomings that it will be able to expand the Growler program at OLF Coupeville in the same form, although it is possible.”


Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

More in News

A pair of Clallam Transit buses sit at The Gateway Transit Center in Port Angeles in preparation for their fixed-route runs on Thursday. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Clallam Transit sees large rise in ridership

No issues seen with new zero-fare policy

Plans move ahead for Quilcene skate park

Jefferson County, volunteers seek grants

Peninsula College Foundation reports record levels of giving

Programs, students both recipients of funds

County to repave section of Carlsborg Road

Clallam County commissioners will consider awarding a contract for… Continue reading

A paving crew from Lakeside Industries replaces pavement on the Waterfront Trail and the entrance to the Port Angeles City Pier parking lot on Wednesday as part of a project to improve sidewalks and storm water drainage around the site. The project is expected to be substantially completed and the parking lot reopened by mid-March. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Port Angeles City Pier

A paving crew from Lakeside Industries replaces pavement on the Waterfront Trail… Continue reading

Port Townsend approves utility rate changes, renames skate park

Public hearing set for Transportation Benefits District

Slate of initiatives has upended Olympia, lobbyist says

‘Potential showstoppers’ described at Coffee with Colleen

Artist Chris Stevenson, who described herself as an urban sketcher from Port Townsend, uses a pencil for scale as she sketches the work at the new entrance to Point Hudson Marina on Monday morning. A group in town, the Port Townsend Urban Sketchers will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday to sketch at the Port Townsend Aero Museum. Sessions are free and open to sketchers of all skill levels. For more information, see www.urbansketchersporttownsend.wordpress.com. (Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News)
Marina art

Artist Chris Stevenson, who described herself as an urban sketcher from Port… Continue reading

The site of the former Rayonier mill in Port Angeles, shown on Tuesday, awaits completion of environmental cleanup almost 27 years after the last roll of pulp rolled off the line. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Cleanup at Rayonier site still years away

Action plan to be approved in 2024-25

About 25 people, including Warren Musgrove of Port Angeles, far right, rallied in support of Palestine on Saturday in front of the Clallam County Courthouse. The event, also scheduled to run from noon to 1 p.m. this Saturday and March 2, included an information table that provided information about the history of occupation in the Gaza Strip, organizer Christy Cox said. (Lois Danks)
Rally for Rafah

About 25 people, including Warren Musgrove of Port Angeles, far right, rallied… Continue reading