What’s been going on?
Quite a lot! It’s time to catch you up on what we’ve been doing, and to appeal for your continued help to make the Navy understand that it’s time for the Growlers to go. Never being known for our brevity, we’ll do our absolute best to keep this short, but please stick with us to the end.
NEPA Lawsuit update:
Litigation in federal court is agonizing slow. It seems to have been particularly slow in our lawsuit against the Navy regarding their Growler expansion EIS decision. As we’ve said before, federal courts generally bend over backwards to give the military whatever it wants in the guise of national security.
The Navy didn’t get what it wanted in our case, however. The court ruled in our favor. Turns out we had the better attorneys, not to mention a righteous cause. But it was slow and took an unbelievable amount of work on our part to achieve that judicial decision.
Achieving an acceptable remedy from the court for that victory has not only once again been slow; it has required a Herculean effort, which still isn’t finished.
The court first tasked the parties to agree to a remedy. The Navy was unwilling to accept any restrictions on their training that might have mitigated some of the harm to impacted citizens. Despite having lost the case, they acted as if they had completely prevailed. We were once again back to briefing the court on remedies at the end of last year.
And then we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally on September 1st we received the judge’s order on remedies. The only good news in the order was that the court reiterated that the Navy’s EIS failings were serious violations of NEPA:
“The failure to conduct these necessary analyses are therefore sufficiently serious violations as they clearly undermine central congressional objectives of NEPA.” [Order on Remedy, Case 2:19-cv-01059-RAJ, Doc. 140, page 6]
The rest of the order was disappointing to say the least. Despite the Navy’s willful violation of the law in making their expansion decision, the court put no restrictions on their continued training while they conducted the new EIS because of . . . you guessed it, national security. And who has the ultimate say on what does or does not impact national security? The Navy!
Worse yet, the court’s order included no deadlines or a timetable for the Navy to complete its new EIS. We knew that the Navy would interpret that to mean that they could take forever to do the new EIS, effectively relieving them of the need to do one at all.
COER immediately filed a motion for reconsideration with briefs asking the judge to reconsider imposing some mitigation on training, imposing a deadline for the Navy to complete its new EIS, and asking the court to retain jurisdiction of the case while the Navy performs its new EIS.
Surprisingly, the court acted swiftly on our motion for reconsideration, entering a new order on October 19th. We didn’t get the mitigation we requested (the court again deferring to the Navy on national security). The judge did however, set a one-year deadline for the Navy to complete the new EIS, required quarterly status reports from the Navy, and retained jurisdiction. At least we knew the “forever” (never) EIS was off the table.
As you might suspect, and even though there were no limits placed upon their training activities, the Navy wasn’t pleased! We wonder why?
On October 27th the Navy filed a motion to reconsider the court’s order on our motion for reconsideration. And now we wait again to see what Judge Jones will do.
Yes, we are all frustrated, but we are making the Navy comply with the law and the court is clearly aware of how harmful Growler noise is to the community. We aren’t going away, and that, more than anything, really displeases the Navy.
What else have we been up to?
So as not to drone on . . . drones?[i] . . . we’ll just give you a list of things we’ve also been doing:
- We are continuing to research and develop our claims for filing an Endangered Species Act (EPA) lawsuit against the Navy to protect the Marbled Murrelets and the Southern Resident Orcas.
- We are active participants in the University of Washington Public Health Noise Initiative looking at the health harms from military aviation. This project is currently in Phase 3, during which a noise-based health-impact survey will be conducted. The Phase 2 work has been completed, and the scientific report is now undergoing peer review and should be published early next year.
- We are active participants in the Island County Community Health Assessment project and are hoping to have the resulting plan recognize and address military jet noise impacts on public health.
- We are working on our elected officials to get them to support demanding that the Navy adjust Growler training to give some relief to civilians living around the OLF.
- We continue to work with and support other environmental activist groups around the region.
- And we’ve also been trying to revise and update our website, one of our toughest tasks!
What you can do to help!
The members of the COER board are all volunteers. Most of us are donors to the cause as well as active workers. But there are only six of us (along with the occasional outside volunteer, our attorneys, and paid consultants) who do all of this work on behalf of our community and the larger Salish Sea region.
As is obvious from the saga of our NEPA lawsuit, this is hard, time-consuming work. It is expensive work! We weren’t kidding when we said that we have better attorneys than the Navy. We think we have the best environmental attorneys on our side. The fact that for the very first time we have been winning in court backs this up. But those attorneys, and the consultants that support them, are expensive. We just cannot maintain this fight without the financial support of the community.
Out of every dollar donated to COER CHARITABLE (COER’s supporting organization) more than 99 cents goes to lawyers and consultants. No funds go to our board. We have no paid employees or members. All the work we do is 100% volunteer.
How can you help us keep fighting and winning?
First, please donate! All donations to COER Charitable are tax deductible to the extent of the law. Checks to COER CHARITABLE should be mailed to P.O. Box 202, Coupeville, WA 98239-0202. You can also make donations through Pay Pal at www.citizensofebeysreserve.com (but checks save us the Pay Pal fees).
Without sufficient funding to enable us to hold them to account, the Navy gets to do whatever it pleases, civilian impacts be damned!
Second, consider volunteering some time. We are in desperate need of a volunteer or volunteers who can build and maintain a COER’s social media presence. Today, social media is critical, more important even than having a website. We need someone who knows how to build and run one.
We also need someone who would like to write our newsletters, so that we can get them out on a monthly, rather than quarterly, basis.
And we can always use other volunteers. Anyone interested in helping out as a volunteer, please contact us at:
That’s it for now. We are here for you for the long haul, but we need you as well. With our sincerest appreciation,
Your COER Board.