02/17/2009: "More Review Needed On Naval Flights"
I am writing in the hopes that you will publicize the issue of the proposed expansion of the Oak Harbor Naval Air Station. ( (Story)
I own a home on Lopez. I have been concerned about increasing overflights and increasing noise emanating from Oak Harbor over the last 2 years. But I have kept my mouth shut, partly because I feel sometimes it is hopeless to complain about what the Navy is doing. But this week the noise level was up again, both in level and frequency of incidents. Then I received a note from a friend telling me about the proposal for the doubling of activity. This is very troubling for a host of reasons! I am very interested and have an enormous amount of input, but I did not hear about this until now. I am alarmed that the EIS comment period ends this Wednesday.
From my home above Fisherman Bay I have noticed a significant change for the worse in the noise generated by the various aviation activities conducted out of Oak Harbor Naval Air Station (OHNAS). Approximately two years ago I began experiencing the following:
-a sharp increase in the number of noise events rising above the ambient Island background sound level
-a sharp, and I am sure significantly measurable increase, in the decibel level of these individual events
-a sharp increase in the number of relatively low level overflights of Lopez Island by military aircraft
-a sharp increase in the number of high level overflights of Lopez Island by military aircraft.
In short, recent OHNAS aviation activity has significantly increased, is much louder, and more disturbing to the peace and quiet so coveted on these Islands. And it is about to get much worse.
I want my chance to be heard. And in public. I am sure I am not alone in this. The EIS comment period needs to be extended so that further public meetings can be held, at a time sufficiently extended beyond the impending February 18 cutoff, to allow impacted local organizations to circle up in a manner that will give us a real chance for actually influencing the outcome of this expansion.
Among other questions and issues the following needs to be addressed:
Has the FAA and the EPA reviewed safe noise levels in light of very recent research on the profound physiological effects of even the most "minor" sleep disturbances?
Has the expansion proposal itself, been brought back to the budgetary table in light of the greatest economic dislocation since the Great Depression?
Have cheaper alternatives been adequately examined? I would be particularly interested in knowing how much naval aviation training transpires in simulators today in light of the tremendous advances in this technology. Nobody is asking the Navy to curtail real live training, but commercial aviation and the maritime industry utilize virtual training for the overwhelming bulk of their training.
Certainly the possibility of the Navy further increasing the utilization of this cost-saving technology needs to be examined, both on a pure budgetary basis and with consideration for the impact these choices have on the environment and the quality of life for the surrounding communities. A concern of tremendous military concern is that our reliance on foreign energy sources continues unabated. Certainly the Navy should not receive any dispensation for the need to do their part in lowering their own usage and dependence on Middle East oil. Increasing military fuel consumption only increases our reliance on foreign resources, further destabliing the geopolitical environment, thereby engendering an ever greater need for military might. This is a very troubling irony that I feel is completely lost on the military. I would be very interested to see some figures on for instance, how much fuel and money would be saved on a yearly basis for every 1% of training that is shifted to a virtual
Readers concerned about this expansion need to do the following, and quickly, as the comment period expires tomorrow.
Write Rick Larsen. Website: http://www.house.gov/larsen/
Write Maria Cantwell. Website: http://cantwell.senate.gov/contact/
Write Patty Muray. Website: http://murray.senate.gov/email/index.cfm
Submit your input concerning the proposed Naval expansion at the EIS homepage. Website: http://www.nwtrangecomplexeis.com/
Make sure in your submittal for the EIS, and in your letters to your legislators, that you plead for a significant extension of the comment period. This needs to be brought back out to a public forum for a proper hashing out. This proposal, its public hearings and comment period, flew under the radar of to many citizens who will be severely negatively impacted by this Naval expansion.