Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

‘Turned a blind eye’: US judge rules Whidbey Island growler jets broke environmental law

The Navy says it hasn’t seen evidence the planes are bothering wildlife. Scientists say otherwise.

By Martin Bauman
August 6, 2022
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

‘Turned a blind eye’: US judge rules Whidbey Island growler jets broke environmental law

The Navy says it hasn’t seen evidence the planes are bothering wildlife. Scientists say otherwise.

By Martin Bauman
Aug 6, 2022
Photo: US Navy.
Photo: US Navy.
Latest News
News
Based on facts either observed and verified firsthand by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

‘Turned a blind eye’: US judge rules Whidbey Island growler jets broke environmental law

The Navy says it hasn’t seen evidence the planes are bothering wildlife. Scientists say otherwise.

By Martin Bauman
August 6, 2022
Get the news and events in Victoria, in your inbox every morning.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
‘Turned a blind eye’: US judge rules Whidbey Island growler jets broke environmental law

You can hear—and almost feel—the rumble in Oak Bay and parts of Victoria: the belly growl that announces each US fighter jet taking off from Whidbey Island across the Juan de Fuca Strait. 

The warplanes—classed, appropriately, as EA-18G “growlers”—fly south of Victoria thousands of times every year. They’ve been a source of noise complaints for some residents on the South Island, but now, a US District Court judge has ruled they’ve been breaking federal law. 

That’s because the US Navy has fallen short on several counts, Judge Richard Jones found: from lacking details on how the jets may impact certain bird species, to failing to properly assess the potential noise effects on students’ learning, to unsatisfactorily reporting on greenhouse gas emissions.

Support Your Community, Support Local Journalism

With paid membership, every penny goes directly to helping our newsroom continue its work and helps our team grow and expand our coverage

Become an Insider

An international problem

Capital Daily’s Jimmy Thomson and Jolene Rudisuela reported on the growler jets—and the problems they pose—in December. At the time, lawyer Roger Marzulla had brought a class-action lawsuit against the US Navy on behalf of Whidbey Island homeowners, who claimed the jets’ noise had made their homes “virtually unlivable.”

But the homeowners weren’t nearly the only ones whose lives had been impacted by the growlers’ flight path; scientists argue endangered species, including Southern Resident killer whales, who travel the waters between US and Canada; and the marbled murrelet seabirds, who live in old-growth forests of BC and Washington, bear the burden of noise too.

The Navy, which has spent $250 million on environmental research over the past decade, says it hasn’t seen evidence the planes are bothering wildlife. A 2019 lawsuit argues otherwise—and Jones’s latest ruling, at least in part, agrees.

Back in December, Jones had asked Chief Magistrate J. Richard Creatura to look into the matter. The resulting 38-page report found the US Navy had “turned a blind eye” in its March 2019 environmental impact statement.

Rare ruling

As the Seattle Times reports, the lawsuit marks a “rare court challenge of a Pentagon decision” in a state that has received billions of dollars in federal military funding.

“The Navy has an important job. But that does not relieve the federal government of its obligation to follow the law and take a hard look at the public health and environmental impacts of its programs,” Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a statement Wednesday.

—With files from Jimmy Thomson and Jolene Rudisuela

Article Author's Profile Picture
Martin Bauman
Newsletter Editor

Support Your Community, Support Local Journalism

With paid membership, every penny goes directly to helping our newsroom continue its work and helps our team grow and expand our coverage

Become an Insider

Related News

More Victorians are cycling, walking to work: Latest census data
Stay connected to your city with the Capital Daily newsletter.
By filling out the form above, you agree to receive emails from Capital Daily. You can unsubscribe at any time.