‘That cavalier misdirection cannot stand’ — Washingtonians ask judge to reduce ‘extremely noisy’ Navy Growler flights

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 WHIDBEY ISLAND, WA (March 29, 2019) Two EA-18G Growlers from squadron VAQ-136 taxi toward the runway at Ault Field as they prepare to take off.

WHIDBEY ISLAND, WA (March 29, 2019) Two EA-18G Growlers from squadron VAQ-136 taxi toward the runway at Ault Field as they prepare to take off.

The Citizens of Ebey's Reserve (COER) is asking a federal judge to require the Navy to roll back the number of EA-18G Growler practice flights at Outlying Field Coupeville to pre-2019 levels until a lawsuit over the number of Growler flights is settled.

COER and private citizen Paula Spina filed a motion for a preliminary injunction Thursday.

According to the motion, since March 2019 the Navy has increased the number of Growlers at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and shifted most of its Growler operations to Outlying Field Coupeville, which is near the Reserve and the town of Coupeville.

"The result is a nearly fourfold increase in Growler flights in that area. Now the overflights subject residents in and near Coupeville to extreme noise for several hours of the day, day and night, many days of the week," said the court document.

Should the judge grant the injunction, the new additional Growler operations could be moved to one or more off-Whidbey locations available to the Navy, according to a COER news release.

The lawsuit at the center of the injunction was filed against the Navy in July by COER and the state of Washington.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson alleges in the lawsuit that the Navy failed to adequately measure impacts to public health and to wildlife in its review process of the proposed expansion of its Growler fleet, according to a July news release from his office.

Because resolution of these and other claims is not likely for six months or longer, COER opted to seek an injunction, according to court documents.

According to those documents, the decisions to add 36 Growlers to the base and to shift much of the Growler operations to Outlying Field Coupeville has increased overflights at the field from an average of 5,637 per year (2000 to 2017) to 24,100 per year.

"Since 2005 the Navy has, in its exhaustive planning documents, informed the public and land-use planners that they should count on 6,100 annual operations at the OLF," COER president Bob Wilbur said in a new release. "Compatible development proceeded accordingly. Now the Navy has decided to ignore its prior guidance and increase OLF operations fourfold. That cavalier misdirection cannot stand."

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