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Washington AG Bob Ferguson sues U.S. Navy over Growler noise

The growler image issued with the U.S. Navy's record of decision on March 14, 2019.
U.S. Navy/ NAS Whidbey Island
The growler image issued with the U.S. Navy's record of decision on March 14, 2019.

A citizens’ fight against jet noise from the U.S. Navy’s expanding fleet of Growler jets on Whidbey Island is getting help from the state’s top lawyer. Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed suit against the Navy, calling its environmental impact statement and review process inadequate.  

Ferguson is asking the court to undo a formal "record of decision" the Navy made public in March, allowing it to move ahead with nearly 100,000 Growler takeoffs and landings per year, for the next 30 years.

Ferguson says the Navy’s environmental review process failed to measure impacts to public health and wildlife in communities on and around Whidbey Island.

“The law requires the Navy to study and fully consider the impacts of significant decisions that will impact Washingtonians and our environment, before finalizing those decisions. The law requires that process,” Ferguson said, as he announced the suit Tuesday in Seattle. “In other words, the Navy needs to look before it leaps. They did not do that here.”

These are arguments a small nonprofit called the Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, or COER, has been making for years. The group’s director, Paula Spina, effusively thanked the AG and his office during the formal announcement, for listening to concerns that fell on deaf ears with the Navy. 

“We literally are told noise is no big deal. But the military uses noise as a weapon,” Spina said. “And we feel essentially that that’s the same thing that’s happening to use in our homes. You cannot go outside while the Growlers are training.”

COER is filing a separate lawsuit, asking for a preliminary injunction to stop the Navy growlers from using its airfield in Coupeville for the rest of the year. The Navy's public affairs office said it does not comment on litigation.  

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to