Leaders ask for extension of EIS comment period

Jan 6, 2017

Whidbey News-Times: Leaders ask for extension of EIS comment period

By Jessie Stensland 

A congressman and Washington state’s two senators have joined calls for the Navy to give people more time to comment on a document related to more airplanes coming to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, Sen. Patty Murray and Sen. Maria Cantwell all signed a Jan. 3 letter to Dennis McGinn, assistant secretary of the Navy, requesting a longer comment period for the draft Environmental Impact Statement, or EIS, noting that the document is more than 1,500 pages.

The draft EIS is a document that outlines the environmental impacts caused by an increase in the number of EA-6G Growlers at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. It was released to the public on Nov. 10.

The current deadline for comments is Jan. 25, a month longer than the 45 days required by law. Larsen and the senators are asking for a 30-day extension, which would be to Feb. 24.

The elected leaders wrote that the request for an extension comes from their constituents.

“Many have told us that an extension would allow them to be more thorough in their review and comment with a better understanding of the scenario and projected impacts on their communities,” the letter states. “In addition, some public entities with scheduled meeting dates may be unable to comment given the current timeline.”

Anti-jet-noise group Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve, or COER, is part of a coalition of organizations that first called for the extension.

The other groups are Friends of the San Juans; Concerned Island Citizens, Oak Harbor; Quiet Skies Coalition, Lopez Island; Protect the Olympic Peninsula; Save the Olympic Peninsula; North Olympic Group; Sierra Club; Protect the Olympic Peninsula; Whidbey Environmental Action Network; Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility; and Veterans for Peace.

Members of the coalition met with a representative for Gov. Jay Inslee Dec. 20 to ask for his support for the extension and to voice concerns about “adverse impacts of Growler operations over Whidbey Island, the San Juan Islands and the Olympic Peninsula,” according to a press release from COER.

COER leaders said the coalition generated hundreds of citizen calls, emails and letters to public officials on the extension issue.

“If the Navy grants this extension, it will be because citizens took the lead and the elected leaders followed,” COER member Cate Andrews said in the press release.