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Congressman Rick Larsen Urged to Come to Homes of his Navy “Growler” Jet Noise Victims
Coupeville, WA. Congressman Rick Larsen is being called on by his constituents to come to their homes and experience the hazardous noise that he is largely responsible for bringing to their communities.
Larsen, who boasts of his role in bringing controversial ‘Growler’ Navy Jets to Washington’s Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, admitted that he has never actually heard the noise from the low flying jets that have become the center of controversy on Whidbey Island and throughout the Puget Sound.
The Navy’s EA18-G ‘Growlers’, the loudest jets ever to fly, are home-based at Whidbey Island’s Naval Air Station with flight paths and noise ‘footprints’ extending above an increasing number of communities and environmentally sensitive areas. There are now 82 Growlers on Whidbey, with plans for at least 26 more.
Congressman Larsen’s admission came at a March 30 standing room only Coupeville Town Hall Meeting where he faced tearful and angry residents who complained about noise related health and property damages. At his previous Town Hall Meeting in Coupeville, Larsen refused even to discuss the jet noise issue, prompting most of those in attendance to walk out. He since acknowledged receiving an increasing number of complaints from his constituents.
“We are glad our Congressman came back to hear our concerns, but disappointed in his failure to offer real solutions and answer serious questions,” said noise victim and board member of Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, Ken Pickard. When asked if he would change his position if he were to be provided solid evidence that jets were causing health problems, Larsen refused to answer.
“Although he reiterated his unwavering support for the low-flying training exercises and the warfare training of Growlers planned over the Olympic National Forest, he seemed to be moved by the story of a noise victim with a military background,” said COER Board Member Maryon Attwood. He also acknowledged for the first time that repetitive low-level touch-and-go training operations were probably “different.”
“We have invited Congressman Larsen to come to our community when the jets are flying so he can hear and feel the hazardous noise we experience, often into the late-night hours,” said COER Board Member Tom Ewell. The Growlers had been training earlier in the day of Larsen’s Town hall meeting, but were pulled from the area prior to Larsen’s arrival.
“Congressman Larsen knows there are options to the Navy’s harmful operations and we hope that he will pursue them once he fully realizes the seriousness of the problem,” said Pickard.
We have identified a number of families willing to meet with Congressman Larsen in a home under the Growler flight paths where the jets fly a mere250 to 300 plus feet above rooftops. We know in advance when the jets fly and will bring those families together for the Congressman. COER made its request to Larsen (attached) and awaits his response.
Dear Congressman Larsen:
As I assume your aide, Mike Schanche, has told you, I have been concerned that you seem unwilling to experience the impact of the Growlers first hand, and I personally invited you to visit with some of the OLF neighbors during an extended touch-and-go training period. This may be awkward for you, but the absolute crux of the COER issue is that the noise is doing significant medical and social harm to those most affected. Judging from my past observation of your style, I have no doubt you have the courage to take this challenge, and I, on behalf of COER, am going to insist that you do so. The folks exposed to the OLF Growlers cannot simply be considered collateral damage to the Navy.
This letter follows an email request to your office, acknowledged by your staff on April 6, that invites you to come to a home in our community to experience the noise from low level Growler training operations that place Navy Growler jets, the loudest ever to fly, a few hundred feet over people’s homes.
We have yet to receive a response from your office, and hope you are seriously considering our request. At your March 30 Town Hall Meeting in Coupeville, you acknowledged that you have never really experienced the noise that your constituents are forced to endure.
It may be true, as you say, that you don’t have to be in a war (like noise) to know that it’s a bad thing. It is also true that those who have seen the horrors of war, of torture, or loss from a natural disaster are more inclined to see them avoided – and more sympathetic to those who are affected. It is for that reason that elected officials often leave the comfort of their offices and make an effort to be where the problems are that their constituents experience.
We are asking that you come to our community and meet with noise victims to hear their experiences first hand. And, to experience what they live with, even if only for a brief moment. We will bring a small representative group of people together in someone’s home, and do so when the jets are flying. Flight times are usually advertised a week in advance, so this is very doable.
We are genuinely interested in you being aware of the seriousness of the problem, which means that people need to be able to talk freely about all their problems, including those that are related to their physical and mental health. Be assured that we are not interested in turning this into a media event, and if you and the people you talk to do not want any reporters to be present, they will not be present. This is about you having first-hand knowledge.
Imagining what these jets sound like is nothing like experiencing them. All who have done so can attest to that fact. Come to our community and experience what men, women, and children, your constituents, are being subjected to. It is a crisis situation that is unacceptable, and one that will not go away.
We look forward to hearing from you or your staff and will endeavor to make your visit productive for all concerned.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve
Post Office Box 202, Coupeville WA 98239 www.citizensofebeysreserve.com
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