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August 17, 2019

7/10/2019 1:19:00 PM
Protecting Puget Sound
From the editor

The Navy is again moving full steam ahead to expand operations in Puget Sound, and indeed, along the Pacific coast from Alaska to California. Its Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement shows a disregard for the Sound’s Southern Resident Killer Whale populations, other marine wildlife and humans committed to the health of these animal populations.
That disregard extends to the human population that interacts with the military. That disregard includes a lack of concern for current challenges to the Navy’s assessment of its operation on animal and human populations. The Navy continues to have a tin ear regarding the democratic process of the people it is protecting and the democracy it is promulgating.
Gov. Jay Inslee, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Attorney General Bob Ferguson have sent letters “requesting,” and “encouraging” and offering lists of what the Navy should do. Alas, the Navy doesn’t have to do anything it doesn’t want to do. Better to spend time encouraging U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen and his peers representing districts around the Sound and U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray to engage the Navy.
The proposed training include “underwater acoustic testing and electronic warfare” and “surface and underwater explosions.” Plus, “finally, the use of high energy lasers, kinetic energy weapons and biodegradable polymer outlined in the EIS are new and their effects are unknown.”
Well, the effects can be accurately estimated: they are all bad news for fauna across the ecosystem, from orcas to albatross, marbled murrelets, puffins, salmon and other forage fish.
Once exploded, spent munitions are pollution: their debris is trash on the surface or in the water column that will be ingested.
We have these assessments from state officials. Even more troubling are the Navy’s words when they simply lie, dissembling the findings of last year’s Southern Residence Killer Whale Task Force. The Navy report reads “Navy actions were not the sources for any of the identified threats.” Wrong. Recommendation 25 outlined the need to “address the acoustic and physical impacts to Southern Resident orcas from Naval exercises in waters and air of Washington State.”
The iconic image is of children on their parents’ shoulders happily saluting and waving as Navy ships and jets pass by.
A military that not only ignores but lies about words on the page of a study of the keystone animals that define the region’s ecosystem and natural way of life is troubling indeed.
Is this what we employ them to do: lie to us so they can destroy the animals, ecosystem, seascape and way of life that make us what we are?
Just who is our enemy, what is the threat and what extraordinary means have to be employed that the truth is trampled?

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