PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT

On September 28, 2018, the Navy announced the release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for EA-18G Growler operations at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and identified Alternative 2A as the preferred alternative. The ultimate decision will be made and announced in a Record of Decision no earlier than 30 days following the public release.

The Navy has released the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing EA-18G Growler operations at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island and Outlying Landing Field (OLF) Coupeville. It contains updated information since the release of the Draft EIS in November 2016 and identifies Alternative 2A as the preferred alternative.

Alternative 2A was announced as the preferred alternative on June 25, 2018. The announcement was made to provide the public transparency regarding the most updated information on the Navy’s current position with respect to the proposed action. No decision has yet been made. The ultimate decision with respect to force structure and Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) distribution will be made by the Secretary of the Navy or his representative and announced in a Record of Decision no earlier than 30 days following today’s public release of the Final EIS.

Alternative 2A establishes two new expeditionary squadrons and adds two aircraft to each squadron that operates off aircraft carriers. This alternative adds 36 aircraft home based at NAS Whidbey Island, increases the airfield operations at both Ault Field and OLF Coupeville, and changes the distribution of FCLP between the two airfields. This preferred alternative provides the best, most realistic training for Navy pilots and takes into consideration the noise impacts to all surrounding communities.

The Navy announced a delay in the release of the Final EIS in September 2017 in order to analyze new nformation—specifically, a planned reduction in the number of pilots per squadron and the successful testing of Precision Landing Mode (PLM), formerly known as MAGIC CARPET. The reduction in pilots per squadron and the implementation of PLM will result in a 30-percent reduction in the FCLP requirement from that analyzed in the Draft EIS. This has a beneficial effect of reducing the overall environmental impacts. The Final EIS has been updated with a new noise analysis that reflects the reduction in airfield operations as well as a corresponding reduction in personnel and family members.

Public input was an important factor in the preparation of the Final EIS. The Navy considered 4,335 public comments received on the Draft EIS. The Final EIS has been updated with new and clarifying information to improve the accuracy and thoroughness of the analysis because of the public comments received on the Draft EIS.

  • Please click here to read the Navy’s press release for the Notice of Availability (NOA) of the Final EIS.
  • Please click here to read the NOA of the Final EIS as published in the Federal Register on September 28, 2018.
  • Please click here to read the newspaper notice for the NOA of the Final EIS as published in local newspapers beginning September 28, 2018.

Please go to the Current EIS Documents page to download a copy of the Final EIS.

Copies of the Final EIS also are available for review at 22 area libraries:

  • Anacortes Public Library
  • Bellingham Public Library
  • Burlington Public Library
  • Camano Island Library
  • Clinton Library
  • Coupeville Library
  • Freeland Library
  • Guemes Island Library
  • Jefferson County Library
  • La Conner Regional Library
  • Langley Library
  • Lopez Island Public Library
  • Lummi Island Library
  • Mount Vernon City Library
  • North Olympic Library System, Port Angeles
  • North Olympic Library System, Sequim
  • Oak Harbor City Library
  • Orcas Island Public Library
  • Port Townsend Public Library
  • San Juan Island Library
  • Seattle Central Public Library
  • Sedro-Woolley Library

NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT (NEPA) PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT

  • The Navy offered three public comment periods and held 13 public meetings in connection with this project – three in Fall 2013, five in Fall 2014 and five in Fall 2016. The project mailing list grew from 350 to 2,342 addressees.
  • The Navy considered all 4,335 public comments received on the Draft EIS and refined the Final EIS with updated information, which included a review of eight different reports submitted as public comments.
  • While The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and CEQ regulations require public comment on the Draft EIS, the regulations do not require a public comment period following the release of a Final EIS.
  • The next step in the NEPA process is a Record of Decision, which would occur no sooner than 30 days following the release of the Final EIS.

DRAFT EIS PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD

There were FOUR ways to provide comments on the Draft EIS:

  1. Submit your written comments at one of the five open house public meetings (December 5 - 9, 2016)
  2. Provide verbal comments to the stenographer, who recorded your comments, at one of the five open house public meetings (December 5 - 9, 2016)
  3. Mail your comments
  4. Provide written comments using the form on this website (form was available from November 10, 2016, to February 24, 2017)

The extended 105-day comment period on the Draft EIS began November 10, 2016, and closed February 24, 2017. The comments submitted at the public meetings, online, or through the mail and their responses are provided as an appendix to the Final EIS (see Appendix M of the Final EIS). Comments submitted during the Draft EIS comment period were used to inform the preparation of the Final EIS document.

OPEN HOUSE PUBLIC MEETINGS, DECEMBER 2016

The Navy held five open house public meetings to provide members of the public with the opportunity to ask questions and submit comments on the Draft EIS. The meetings were held as follows:

Monday, December 5, 2016
Fort Worden State Park
Conference Center, USO Hall
200 Battery Way
Port Townsend, WA 98368
3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Oak Harbor Elks Lodge
Grande Hall
155 NE Ernst Street
Oak Harbor, WA 98277
4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Lopez Center for Community and
the Arts
204 Village Road
Lopez Island, WA 98261
3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Thursday, December 8, 2016
Seafarers’ Memorial Park Building
601 Seafarers’ Way
Anacortes, WA 98221
3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Friday, December 9, 2016
Coupeville High School Commons
501 South Main Street
Coupeville, WA 98239
4:00 PM – 7:00 PM

OPEN HOUSE PUBLIC MEETING MATERIALS, DECEMBER 2016

Posters:

PUBLIC OUTREACH BROCHURE, JUNE 2015

The Navy has prepared an informational brochure in order to promote greater understanding of the mission of NAS Whidbey Island, Growler operations and mission, issues related to aircraft noise, and the EIS process. The brochure is available for download at this link.

SCOPING MEETINGS

The Navy held a total of five open house information sessions to provide members of the public with the opportunity to review project-related information, ask questions of Navy representatives, and submit comments on the scope of analysis and content to be addressed in the EIS. The meetings were held as follows:

  • From 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October, 28, 2014, at Coupeville High School
  • From 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 29, 2014, at the Oak Harbor Elks Lodge
  • From 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 30, 2014, at Anacortes High School
  • From 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, December 3, 2014, at the Lopez Center for Community and Arts
  • From 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 4, 2014, at the Fort Worden Park Conference Center

SCOPING MEETING MATERIALS

PAST ANNOUNCEMENTS

Navy Announces EIS Preferred Alternative for Growler Operations at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and Releases NHPA Section 106 Consultation

The Navy has identified a preferred alternative in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) analyzing Growler operations at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island and Outlying Landing Field (OLF) Coupeville.

Alternative 2 has been identified as the preferred alternative for force structure. This alternative establishes two new expeditionary squadrons and adds two aircraft to each squadron that operates off aircraft carriers. This alternative adds 36 aircraft at NAS Whidbey Island. Additionally, this plan calls for nine total carrier squadrons and five expeditionary squadrons.

Scenario A has been identified as the preferred alternative for Field Carrier Landing Practice (FCLP) distribution. Under this scenario, 88,000 total operations would occur at Ault Field, with 24,100 at OLF Coupeville. 23,700 of those operations at OLF Coupeville would be FCLP flown by EA-18G Growlers.

The operational numbers in the preferred alternative incorporate additional analysis of changes to Navy training that will reduce impacts to local communities. The reductions the Navy studied were based on two factors: the number of pilots needing training and a reduced FCLP requirement due to Precision Landing Mode, formerly known as MAGIC CARPET. Both of these factors decreased overall FCLP requirements from the 42,000 presented in the Draft EIS to 29,600 annually—a 30% reduction under the preferred alternative.

No final decision has been made. The ultimate decision will be made by the Secretary of the Navy or his representative and announced in a Record of Decision no earlier than 30 days following the public release of the Final EIS. The Navy expects the Final EIS to be released in the late summer to early fall timeframe.

Additionally, the Navy has released a document summarizing consultation efforts with respect to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (NHPA) for the increase in EA-18G “Growler” aircraft and airfield operations at NAS Whidbey Island.

  • Please click here to read the Navy’s press release for the announcement of the preferred alternative and the NHPA Section 106 consultation release.
  • Please click here to read the newspaper notice as published in local newspapers beginning June 25, 2018.
  • Please click here to read the Navy’s Section 106 consultation document.

Navy Extends Timeline for Release of Final Environmental Impact Statement for Growler Operations at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island

The release of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) analyzing an increase of EA-18G Growler aircraft at the Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island complex, originally scheduled for autumn of this year, is being extended for about 10 months.

  • Please click here to read the Navy’s press release for the extension of the release of the Final EIS.
  • Please click here to read the newspaper notice as published in local newspapers beginning September 23, 2017.

Public Comment Period Ends: The extended 105-day comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) began November 10, 2016, and closed February 24, 2017. The comments submitted at the public meetings, online, or through the mail and their responses will be provided in an appendix in the Final EIS.  Comments submitted during the Draft EIS comment period will be used to inform the preparation of the Final EIS document.  

Information regarding the availability of the Draft EIS is provided on the Public Involvement page and has also been mailed to interested members of the public who have submitted their contact information to the project mailing list.

Navy extends public comment period for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) – In response to requests from elected officials, the Navy has agreed to extend (by 30 days) the public comment period for the Draft EIS for EA-18G Growler airfield operations at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island complex. The original extended public comment period of 75 days was due to conclude January 25, 2017. THE COMMENT PERIOD WILL NOW CONCLUDE ON FEBRUARY 24, 2017.

  • Please click here to read the Navy’s press release for the extension of the public comment period.
  • Please click here to read the newspaper notice as published in local newspapers beginning January 20, 2017.
  • Please click here to read the Amended Notice for Extension of the Comment Period as published by the EPA in the Federal Register on January 23, 2017.
  • Please click here to read the Notice of Extension of Public Comment Period as published by the Navy in the Federal Register on January 24, 2017.

Notice of Availability (NOA) for the Draft EIS and notice of open house public meetings – The Navy published an NOA for the Draft EIS for EA-18G "Growler" Airfield Operations at NAS Whidbey Island Complex in the Federal Register on Thursday, November 10, 2016. The publication of the NOA initiated an extended public comment period lasting 75 days, beginning on November 10, 2016, and ending on January 25, 2017 (the comment period will now conclude on February 24, 2017).

The Navy held five open house public meetings in December 2016 to provide members of the public with the opportunity to submit comments on the Draft EIS.

  • Please click here to read the NOA and Notice of Public Meetings as published in local newspapers.
  • Please click here to read the Navy’s media release.
  • Please click here to read the Notice of Availability as published in the Federal Register on November 10, 2016.
  • Please click here to read the Notice of Public Meetings as published in the Federal Register on November 18, 2016.

Press Release Regarding NAS Whidbey Island Draft EIS Release – Please click here for a copy of the press release issued April 6, 2016, regarding the announcement of the release of the NAS Whidbey Island Draft EIS, scheduled for fall 2016.

Currents Magazine Article - Click here to download the "Pacific Northwest Growler Training Essential for 21st Century Battles," published in fall 2015 in Currents magazine.

The Navy has prepared an informational brochure in order to promote greater understanding of the mission of Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, Growler operations and mission, and issues related to aircraft noise and the EIS process. The brochure is available for download at this link.

Notice of Extension of Public Scoping Period and Additional Public Scoping Meetings in Lopez Island and Port Townsend, Washington – Please click here for the copy of the notice published in the Federal Register on November 17, 2014.

Press Release Regarding Additional Public Meetings – Please click here for a copy of the press release issued November 12, 2014, regarding the announcement of additional scoping meetings and the scoping comment extension.

Revised Notice of Intent (NOI) to Prepare an EIS for EA-18G Growler Airfield Operations at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, Washington. Please click here for a copy of the NOI published in the Federal Register on October 10, 2014.

Press Release Regarding Public Scoping Meetings - Please click here for a copy of the press release issued October 8, 2014, regarding the announcement of public meetings.

Press Release Regarding Growler Alternatives - Please click here for a copy of the press release issued July 25, 2014, regarding the Navy's incorporation of additional force structure alternatives into the ongoing EIS.

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