Dead ears in dead places

Kilmers Response to Electonic Warfare

Thank you for contacting me about the Navy's proposed electronic warfare range on the Olympic Peninsula. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on this issue with me.

As you know, the Navy is interested in developing an electronic warfare range to enable Navy pilots practice their skills. The range would consist of one permanent structure, located near Whidbey Island, and three mobile vehicles outfitted with electronics. All four components would be capable of emitting signals that would be observed by the pilots while conducting training missions.

In accordance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA), an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) was conducted in 2010 to determine the effects the range would have on the local environment. More recently, the Navy has conducted an Environmental Assessment (EA) concerning their need to obtain permits to operate on United States Forest Service land. The Navy's EA was made available to the public for comment between August 1stand August 15th. The comment period for the Navy's EA is now closed.

The US Forest Service is now considering whether to adopt the Navy's EA to provide the Navy with a special-use permit to perform training operations on the Olympic National Forest. The Forest Service extended its public comment period on the project to October 31, 2014. Comments can be submitted through this link.

The Navy says that operating the Electronic Warfare range on the Peninsula is a critical part of their mission. While that should be taken into account it's also an important part of their mission to keep the local communities informed on what exactly is at play here. Frankly, in this instance, the Navy has failed to live up to their outreach duties. The public has a right to know exactly what is being proposed with this range. What are the impacts on human health? On our quality of life? What's the environmental impact on our forests and the animals there?

Given all of this, I asked the Navy to hold a town hall meeting in Forks and I'm glad they did. But more outreach needs to happen on the Peninsula. We've given them contacts for local press and officials and are pushing them to hold more public meetings. It's essential for folks in our region to have the opportunities they need to ask questions and weigh in with any concerns. Our community is grateful for the Navy and those that serve in it. Our community at large functions best when open and honest dialogue occurs and that is what I am pushing for. 

Please know, that I will continue to keep your thoughts in mind, as I work with the Navy to further understand this project and ensure that they improve their communications throughout our region.

Derek Kilmer