Third Time’s The Charm? The Navy Extends the Public Comment Period in the Pacific Northwest

It happened not once, not twice, but three times: the Navy has once again extended the public comment period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for its Northwest Training Range Complex to April 13, thanks to letters from 6 of 7 Oregon's federal delegation, numerous public requests, and media attention in Oregon, California, and Washington State.  (Click here to read my blog about the other extensions in the Pacific Northwest.)  The extension cannot in any way augment the inadequate environmental analysis contained in the DEIS, but we do appreciate the Navy's nod to the public, which has demanded greater transparency and the opportunity for meaningful input.

Unfortunately, transparency is one thing the Navy's DEIS cannot provide.  The DEIS fails to explain potential environmental and cumulative impacts, to analyze all reasonable alternatives, and to outline measures that may actually reduce the harmful impacts of sonar.  For instance, it completely disregards the serious impacts its sonar training will have on the highly endangered Southern Resident killer whale, whose critical habitat in and around Puget Sound would be overrun by sonar training.  Likewise, it doesn't consider impacts on the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, which will be engulfed by sonar training.  Instead, the Navy ignores information adverse to its interests and relies on methodologies not accepted by the scientific community. 

NRDC, joined by a coalition of national, international and local environmental groups, wrote extensive comments on the Navy's proposal, asking it to properly analyze impacts on marine mammals as well as to adopt sufficient measures to reduce the harm of its training. 

If you're reading this blog and are a little concerned, it's not too late!  Thanks to this third extension of the public comment period, the Navy will be accepting comments until April 13, 2009.  Click here to submit your comments and concerns.