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Mayor of Oak Harbor condemns AG's noise complaint against the Navy

A lawsuit against the Navy over its expanding Growler program on Whidbey Island is what Oak Harbor's mayor says is not a good use of state funds.

The lawsuit against the U.S. Navy over the planned expansion of airfield operations at Whidbey Island is "not a good use of state funds," Oak Harbor Mayor Robert Severns wrote to Attorney General Bob Ferguson. 

In a letter dated July 19, Mayor Severns says he disagrees with Ferguson's lawsuit. Challenging the growth of the Navy's Growler program is "irresponsible and unjustifiable in the eyes of the majority of our citizens," Severns wrote. 

Severns further says "most Island inhabitants" don't consider noise generated from Navy jets to be "bad noise." 

The Navy authorized the expansion of the Growler EA-18G jet program, increasing takeoffs and landings to nearly 100,000 per year for 30 years. 

The AG's office claims the Navy's environmental review process for the expanded program failed to properly measure impacts to public health and wildlife on the island. 

In the lawsuit, Ferguson argues that the Navy violated the National Environmental Protection Act and Administrative Procedure Act by improperly analyzing the impact of the program. 

The Washington State Department of Health outlined how exposure to noise levels similar to those at the air station could negatively impact health, including sleep, cognitive ability, and cause cardiovascular disease. In the lawsuit, Ferguson says the Navy "failed to complete a thorough analysis of negative impacts on health." 

The lawsuit also asserts the Navy didn't consider measures to protect wildlife and its habitat, including Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve

Arguing that the Navy's mission is more important than either of their positions in office, Mayor Severns says the Navy did its due diligence in studying the impacts of expanding its Growler program and that Ferguson's action could impact the Navy's future decisions which could  "cripple the economy in our Pacific Northwest." 

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