MOUNT VERNON — The National Defense Authorization Act that sets the military budget for 2020 includes a section members of Congress and of the regional Sound Defense Alliance say will require real-time monitoring of jet noise at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
The act has passed Congress and now requires President Donald Trump’s signature to enact it.
Noise from EA-18G Growler jets flown out of NAS Whidbey has long been a contentious issue for area communities including Coupeville and Oak Harbor.
Residents, environmental groups and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson have argued — through public comment on the Navy’s recent addition of 36 jets at the base and in lawsuits — that the Growlers are louder than other types of jets stationed at the base and that an increase in the number of flights is impacting human health, wildlife and the enjoyment of public lands.
Some have also contested the Navy’s reliance on computer modeling to determine the impact of jet noise — a major issue raised during the Navy’s completion of an Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, for the recent addition to its fleet.
Sen. Maria Cantwell and Rep. Rick Larsen, both Democrats representing the state, say the provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that requires noise monitoring in 2020 will address those concerns.
“Noise from Growler training has caused much concern in local communities,” Cantwell said in a joint news release with Larsen. “Publicly available real-time monitoring of Whidbey Island and the Olympic National Park will provide transparency and a basis for an accurate discussion on the impacts of the increased flight activity between the Navy, the state, and the communities involved.”