Some local officials in Washington have come out against a state lawsuit opposing the expansion of jet operations at the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
While the lawsuit has raised concerns about increased noise from air traffic, the officials said that most local residents value the Navy enough to tolerate the roaring overhead. Or as the Navy Times put it Friday, “They want to hear the sound of Freedom!”
Last month, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that Washington was filing a lawsuit against the Navy over its plans to add up to three dozen EA-18G Growler jets to the 82 already based on the island, north of Seattle.
On Tuesday, though, the Skagit Valley Herald reported that Bob Severns, the mayor of nearby Oak Harbor, penned a letter to the attorney general condemning the state’s lawsuit as unjustifiable and a waste of resources
According to Severns, his time spent campaigning door-to-door led him to believe the majority of residents have no complaints with the Navy or its jets.
Washington lawsuit over Navy jets could cost jobs
The mayor further warned that the state’s lawsuit threatens the continued growth ― and maybe even presence ― of the Whidbey Island Navy base, which he noted is the largest employer in his county.
“Your action could also adversely affect future Navy decisions, which could cripple the economy in our Pacific Northwest and leave us without the protection and support that we value as a community and a state,” he said.
Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson echoed Severns. She told the Herald that she had heard overwhelming support for the Navy from residents.
“The sound of freedom”
Washington isn’t the only state where planned military flyovers have raised concerns about noise. When the Air Force in February announced upcoming low-altitude training drills over sparsely populated areas of Michigan’s upper Thumb region, residents worried that their quiet communities would be disturbed.
However, in many cases, locals support the training that goes on in their community, recognizing that bases serve the country and provide jobs. Residents of Lawton, Oklahoma, reportedly consider it an honor to host the noisy artillery of the Army’s Ft. Sill, which “regularly shatters windows, glasses and vases, and rocks pictures off kilter.”
Old-timers have reportedly learned to tune out the noise of the firing cannons. Like the Navy Times, they call it “the sound of freedom.”
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