On July 9, 2019 both the Citizens of the Ebey’s Reserve (“COER”) and the Washington State Attorney General filed lawsuits against the U.S. Navy under the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). COER thanks Attorney General Robert Ferguson and his outstanding staff, for taking a hard look at the Navy’s EIS and Record of Decision expanding EA18-G “Growler” jet operations at NAS Whidbey, and for unequivocally saying to the Navy that this decision is unreasonably harmful, unsustainable, and contrary to federal law. In filing their NEPA suit, the Attorney General largely validates what COER has been saying for most of the past decade: the Navy decision to base all Growler electronic attack aircraft on Whidbey Island with training over civilian populations, near schools and the hospital, over Ebey’s Reserve, the Olympic National Forest and Park, and Deception Pass State Park, must be reversed.
On October 22, 2019 the COER and Washington State cases against the U.S. Navy were consolidated by mutual consent.
On October 25, 2019 the defendants filed their answer in the consolidated case.
On November 4, 2019 a scheduling order (see timetable below) was entered by the court; and COER is preparing a motion seeking a Preliminary Injunction to stop Growler training at the Coupeville OLF pending a decision in the NEPA action.
On February 14, 2020 COER filed a motion for a preliminary injunction asking the court to roll back the EA-18G “Growler” carrier landing practice at Outlying Field (OLF) Coupeville to pre-2019 levels until the court reaches a decision on the merits in the pending federal lawsuit.
Timetable pursuant to the Nov. 4, 2019 scheduling order:
- On or before January 3, 2020 – the defendants are required to confer and decide upon a draft index and provide copies of the documents proposed to be included in the Administrative Record in this case;
- On or before January 17, 2020 – all parties shall meet and confer regarding the proposed Administrative Record and shall attempt to address any disputes regarding completeness or sufficiency;
- On or before January 31, 2020 – the defendants are required to file the certified Administrative Record with the court;
- On or before February 28, 2020 – the plaintiffs shall file any appropriate motions with regard to the completeness or sufficiency of the Administrative Record filed with the court by the defendants;
- On or before March 20, 2020 – the defendants shall file responses to any such motions filed by the plaintiffs;
- On or before March 30, 2020 – the plaintiffs may file a reply in support of their motions;
- On or before March 30, 2020 – the parties shall meet and agree, if possible, on a briefing schedule; and
- On or before April 6, 2020 – the parties shall provide the court with their proposed briefing schedule.
- COER and the Washington Attorney General also sent the Navy required 60 day demand letters under the federal Endangered Species Act (“ESA”) in preparation for amending their respective NEPA suits to include claims under the ESA.
- COER also filed suit against the Navy under the Freedom Of Information Act (“FOIA”).
- COER’s attorneys are preparing discovery and a motion to seek a preliminary injunction in federal court to stop the Navy from exceeding 6,120 annual operations at the Coupeville OLF (the number of operations the Navy established in its 2005 EA).
- COER’s attorneys are examining any and all other lawsuits that can be brought against the Navy.
What can you do to help?
- Add your voice regarding the impact of Growler noise in your life by using COER’s “Citizen Speak” form.
- Write thank you letters to the Attorney General for supporting COER and the Salish Sea communities;
- Send letters to our elected representatives. See a sample Letter of Thanks here
- Make a donation to COER to help us continue this fight for our communities and our environment. This fight is expensive and we need your help. Donations can be made here.