The alarming coastal warfare training plan from the U.S. Navy

By Marie Gargano of Depoe Bay, Oregon. Marie describes herself: "I am an environmentalist to my core. And I just re-registered a year ago as a Democrat after being a lifelong Republican for 63 years."

I went to the US Navy's hearing last Friday night in Newport, Oregon. What an eye-opener!

I was told by one of the Navy's representatives that the Navy wants to take over the two training areas currently used by the Oregon Air National Guard. This includes the entire coastal air space and coastal waters of Oregon.

[Editor's note: Yesterday's Oregonian included a front-page story about the Navy's plan. Read it here.]

The hearing was part of their "public outreach"; strangely only one 90-minute hearing in the entire state of Oregon.

As evidenced from their public comments, most people learned of the hearing at most 2-3 days in advance. As a result, only about 40 people attended. State and local officials learned hours before of the hearing. There was no question and answer period. Few knew about the Navy's Draft Environmental Impact Statement website.

The Navy plans to use both mid-frequency and high frequency sonar in the coastal waters.

I was told at the hearing there isn't a 12-mile offshore limit to the Navy's proposal. In fact, one of the Navy personnel said that if they need to do shallow water training, their proposal allows them to do it.

Here's the deal... The Navy wants to take over and use the Oregon Air National Guard training areas off the entire coast of Oregon in order to expand the Navy's training activities, including mine fields (yes, mine fields!), predator drones, artillery shelling practice, submarine exercises including munitions and their associated debris. These are what I picked up from other speakers. Who knows what else is in the DEIS?

Included in the Navy's handout for their preferred proposal:

Please go to this website and read some of the documents in the Navy's Draft Environmental Impact Statement. They are quite alarming.

I was so alarmed about the Navy's proposals that I spoke at the hearing, saying I am calling Gov. Kulongoski, Sen. Ron Wyden's and Sen. Jeff Merkley's offices to ask their intervention with the Secretary of the Navy.

The Navy needs to rethink and abandon large parts of this entire proposal. The potential effects of new and increased military activity off the coast of Oregon could result in a general degradation of the environment, be fatal to wildlife and detrimental to the human quality of life. And contrary to the best interests of the tourism industry and coastal property values. We need to ensure our concerns are heard loud and clear before the Navy's proposals become foregone conclusions.

Comments

  • Garrett (unverified)
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    Would you prefer our Navy get their training off the coast of California? Or even better China right? They've got to get it somewhere. Screw everyone but Oregon. Our precious coast should not be subjected to a plane flying over it.

  • Lani (unverified)
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    Thanks for attending the meeting and posting about the Navy's plans for Oregon's coastline.

    I'm dismayed that the Navy is being so sneaky about this plan--and no wonder! The use of munitions like depleted uranium, sonar with its potential for fish and mammal kills all combine to threaten eco-tourism, fishing, wildlife, shipping, and recreational boating in the area.

    There's a big ad on the front page about Sen. Wyden's record on the environment and if anyone knows him, could you let us know what his plans or our other elected officials plans are to stop this?

  • Lani (unverified)
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    Garrett>You obviously didn't read the article. This impacts the entire Pacific Northwest from Washington to Northern California.

    The transfer of coastal waters from the National Guard to federal control will enable wholesale destruction of the coastal ecosystem, endangering migratory animals like gray whales as well as salmon and other resources already depleted and failing.

  • (Show?)

    According to The O's piece the Navy is already doing training off the west coast. This proposal is for something enhanced rather than broaching the issue for the first time as Garrett's comment would seem to imply.

    The sonar aspect is troubling on a level which goes way beyond knee-jerk support or opposition for military training in our backyard.

    But most troubling is, as Lani notes, the sneakiness with which the Navy appears to have approached the public notification requirements. Why would they take that approach if not out of concern for a negative reaction from the public? And if they are worried about a negative public reaction then might there be some legit reasons why we, the public, ought to react negatively to this proposal?

  • Ryan (unverified)
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    Yup, another article written by another stupid reporter. I love how people that have never served this country think they know a lot about the military. I am a Navy Veteran, civilian private pilot and was stationed in WA and CA. First of all, its nearly impossible to get clearance in going beyond Mach levels over populated areas. The reason for this is because it usually cracks or blows out homeowners windows.

    Minefields? Yea right even if they did, they usually use practice dummy mines. Ever watch aircraft with missiles and bombs attached to them. Every single one with blue markings on them are fake. The Navy will be very careful and not disturb your precious whales and crap. Theres more laws on the use of sonar with the Navy now.

  • Hartlimes (unverified)
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    Wow. The U.S. Navy wants to practice naval warfare off the coast of the United States? Shocking news.

    You liberal green pansies are opposed to LNG imports, but you complain about the price of heating your homes. You live under the umbrella of safety provided by largest blue water naval fleet in the world, but you don't want their training to impact wildlife or reduce civilian access to fisheries.

    The only way to achieve the natural paradise that you dream of is to eliminate all people on the planet. Most of you aren't ready to be the first to jump off a cliff to save the planet. If you're ready to heat your home with wood that you chopped, and you don't mind having foreign nuclear armed subs lurking off the Coast of Oregon, then by all means, keep up the protests. But if you want a Navy that is trained and equipped to protect us, and you want to burn natural gas to heat your homes, then STFU and sit down.

  • Lani (unverified)
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    Transferring control of coastal waters from the state to federal jurisdiction is a bad idea

    The Navy is trying to circumvent the law by holding one public hearing in a small coastal town with a single advertisement in a small local paper. This may comply with the letter of the law for the EIS but it certainly violates the intent of that law.

    Destruction of our fisheries, coastal ecosystem, and natural resources makes no sense. The Navy knows this and that's why they've gone to great lengths to hide their activities.

  • Lani (unverified)
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    If the only response you can make is to insult others, you have no argument.

    The military already runs exercises off the coast. This transfers ownership to the feds and allows a greater danger to shipping, fisheries, and the marine environment.

    This is a naked power grab by the feds to remove state oversight of our coastal waters. The state answers to its citizens far more readily than the federal government and that's why they're doing it.

    Also, this transfer of ownership makes it easier for the feds to make $$ off gas or oil leases if they decide to cede control to private interests later.

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)
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    Marie, you were a 'environmentalist to your core' and a lifelong republican for 63 years. Count me confused about how those two things go together. Republicans have waged war on not only our environment but the entire planet since Nixon resigned and have not been at all shy about it.

  • Jiang (unverified)
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    They regularly kill thousands of marine mammals testing new sonar systems. This is only a problem for all you "military is service" types. The rest of us expect this from hired killers.

    Has anyone EVER mentioned the daily training flights that take off from PDX? What about all these patriotic air shows? All are simply a waste of fuel. It's like Brits taking tea. You can't grow tea in England. For everyone to have it, every day, you have to rule the waves. Drinking it celebrates empire. We burn aviation fuel to beat our chest. Other branches of the military find similar ways to wave their big dick around.

    Now, all those that said the proposal on this blog to make Oregon military free was stupid and unnecessary, you can kiss my ass. Has a military base ever closed without becoming a superfund site? Do you realize that there are no worker protections or workplace prohibitions against environmental toxins when the military decide the project is classified? Being a human guinea pig is not a job. The military was 1/2 honest, "It's not a job, it's an adventure"...and it's patriotic. I'm sure that's how Vlad the Impaler described his avocation.

  • mp97303 (unverified)
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    "This is only a problem for all you "military is service" types. The rest of us expect this from hired killers."

    WTF

  • Hartlimes (unverified)
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    Drinking tea is a political act? Did the hippies quit drinking coffee? How do the procure coffee without "ruling the seas".

    Lani:

    How does this constitute a "transfer of ownership" to the Feds? Under the international Law of the Seas, the first 12 nautical miles (perpendicular from the low tide) are U.S. Territorial Seas, although the Feds have delegated some control to the coastal state for the first 3 miles from low tide (google CZMA). The exclusive economic zone (the first 200 miles) provides exploitation rights to the coastal NATION, but the State of Oregon has no legal claim to these waters beyond those delegated to it by the Feds.

    The U.S. Navy doesn't need Oregon's permission to conduct training beyond the first 3 miles of coast (which they generally avoid unless they're headed to port). Get over it.

  • Lani (unverified)
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    Hardtimes>You want the feds to control everything, why?

    I'd prefer to leave some fish and mammals in the ocean for the next generation. I don't agree w/ your philosophy of "screw the next generation" and "pollution without borders".

    Do you honestly believe the Navy will be a better steward of the ocean than the state? What do you base that opinion on?

  • Hartlimes (unverified)
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    Lani,

    I'm telling you what the law says, not what I think. The Federal Government has exclusive dominion over what happens in the first 3-200 miles off the coast. The only reason the State of Oregon has any voice over the first 3 miles is because the Feds gave it to them under the Coastal Zone Managment Act (CZMA).

    Where did you get "screw the next generation and pollution without borders" from? The U.S. Navy isn't going to start drilling for oil or using drift nets, they're merely maintaining their readiness to defend our country (even those who take those rights for granted).

    Time for a meds check.

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    UL, you're missing the obvious counter-example: Tom McCall.

  • Frank (unverified)
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    Right wing environmental policy has already destroyed the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico. The right wingers made a mess of the Gulf Coast. They can have Navy training facilities off the coast of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama too.

    The Navy can do their practice in areas already pretty ruined. They don't need to ruin someplace else.

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)
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    Kevin, you are correct about Tom McCall, but he is the exception to the rule in republican politics. Today he would instantly be compared to that well known Anti-Christ-Hitler-loving-enviro-Devil named Al Gore.

    I don't see any republicans running on his legacy, do you?

  • (Show?)

    UL, I don't see any Republicans running in McCall's shadow either. But look at the context here. Marie is an Oregonian who was a Republican when McCall was in office. Obviously there was a time when, in Oregon at least, she was reasonably mainstream in the GOP.

    I used to be a Republican too. I left nearly 20 years ago, but not until after naively trying to swim upstream for a while. So Marie tried longer than others. An identity held for so many years isn't easily set aside. The longer it's been held, the harder it is to set aside. 63 years is a heck of a long habit to break!

  • JellyRicardo (unverified)
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    Al Gore is the reason I became a Republican.

    And no, I'm not joking.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Maybe I've missed it, but could you point out something, anything, our military is doing that is not alarming?

    Posted by: JellyRicardo | Feb 6, 2009 5:27:22 PM

    Al Gore is the reason I became a Republican.

    And no, I'm not joking.

    Like there's a difference. Lani and I are going to live under the ocean, away from Amerikind.

    MP, maybe you didn't hear. Our last President wanted a hit put on a guy in Iraq. The US government advertised to jobless youth that they could get good pay and benefits for carrying out the job, and they did. Now you can say WTF. Can't believe I'm defending a drive-by poster, but enough is enough.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    BTW, thanks for raising the issue. As a new Dem you may find like many of us before, that it can be just as stogy on this side of the aisle. These posts are certainly a good example. The original post deserved much better, in my humble estimation.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    You know, I'm going to leave all this to the trollsters.

    Posted by: Hartlimes | Feb 6, 2009 2:47:20 PM

    Lani,

    I'm telling you what the law says, not what I think... The only reason the State of Oregon has any voice over the first 3 miles is because the Feds gave it to them ... they're merely maintaining their readiness to defend our country (even those who take those rights for granted).

    Time for a meds check.

    I blog with irate Pakistanis living in Manchester, pablum puking conservatives and everything in-between, and I have to conclude that this is the rudest blog on the 'net. Happy trails, all. Enjoy your microsurgery separating Dems from Reps. I'm also going to give Jiang an extra 30 minutes at lunch for posting. You all deserve each other.

  • unimpressed kitteh (unverified)
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    Zarathustra: "...I blog with irate Pakistanis living in Manchester, pablum puking conservatives and everything in-between, and I have to conclude that this is the rudest blog on the 'net. Happy trails, all..."

    ur doin it wron.

    u wouldnt last 1/2 a comment thread at even icanhascheezburger.com, you wus.

    kthxbye

  • Lance Comfort (unverified)
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    Wow, what a sorry bunch of individuals. Yeah, I'm sure the US Navy is just plotting how to destroy as much of the Oregon coast as possible. I'm sure that the moment they sign that piece of paper that enilists them in the Navy their souls are sucked from their bodies and they begin their dark plots against nature. Yeah, right. Do you people hear yourselves? Could you be a little more paranoid? Maybe you just ease up on that pot consumption a little, 'cause it's starting to show. Oh, one more thing, thte sonar use is suspectected of having some role in interferrence with sea mammal navigation, it has yet to be fully substantiated or even understood(so quit stating it like a fact).

    It would be nice if people who don't know what they are talking about would sit down and shut the hell up!

  • Frank (unverified)
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    Lance Confomt: Wow, what a sorry bunch of individuals. Yeah, I'm sure the US Navy is just plotting how to destroy as much of the Oregon coast as possible. I'm sure that the moment they sign that piece of paper that enilists them in the Navy their souls are sucked from their bodies and they begin their dark plots against nature.

    Frank: And what a sorry right wing extremist freak you are.

    In fact, the US Navy couldn't have damaged Vieques Island (the US Navy's last training site) any more if they HAD sat down and planned out how to make it the worst toxic cesspool they could, Lance.

    Intention is irrelevant, Lance. The US Navy permanently damages the places it decides to train.

    "Study: Toxic metals in produce grown on Vieques - INO.com Headlines - 28/10/08

    (AP:MAYAGUEZ, Puerto Rico) A new study has found dangerous levels of toxic metals in produce grown on a Puerto Rican island formerly used as a Navy bombing range, despite U.S. government claims that the soil there is safe.

    Some products from a research farm on Vieques Island had as much as 20 times the acceptable amount of lead and cadmium, according to the study released last week by the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez.

    Researcher Arturo Massol said peppers, spinach and tomatoes showed higher levels of contamination than products from the nearby Puerto Rican mainland and would pose a health risk to humans. Food grown at the farm is strictly for research and is not meant for consumption.

    A Navy spokesman, Cmdr. J.A. "Cappy" Surett, reiterated Monday that the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has determined the soil on Vieques does not pose a health risk to people. A 2003 study by the agency found that Navy training exercises elevated the levels of some metals in the soil, but islanders were not exposed to harmful levels of contamination."

    http://www.topix.com/world/puerto-rico/2008/10/study-toxic-metals-in-produce-grown-on-vieques-ino-com-headlines-28-10-08

  • Stop Endless WAR (unverified)
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    Obama should just close the Navy for the next 4 years.

    It's not like we really need them, right? Who's gonna attack us, Mexico?

  • DWIGHT (unverified)
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    HEY ANIMALS ARE THERE FOR US TO EAT. THE NAVY NEEDS TO TRAIN TO PROTECT YOU DUMB LIBS FREE SO YOU CAN MAKE US MORE DEPENDIENT ON OTHER COUNTRIES FOR ALL ARE RESOURCES.

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)
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    Wow, is it a full moon or something? There sure are a lot of bizarre trolls on this blog today.

    Marie, thanks for bringing this to Blue Oregon. I agree that the way the Navy handled the notification/hearing on this issue indicates that there is something going on that they don't want people to know about.

    Now, I'm going to go do my reading up on the issue before I make further comment (what a refreshing idea, huh?). I hope you'll blog again on BO and keep those of us not living on the coast apprised of what's happening out there.

  • Lance Comfort (unverified)
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    First of all Frank, I'm hardly right-wing, or extremist. I agree that the Navy should have complete transparency for anything they plan to do along our coast, but the demonizing of Navy is a bit much. Also, you might want to note the vast difference between a 'training area' and a 'firing range.' I would not want a firing range along our coast.

  • Jiang (unverified)
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    "Military service" is a test of our most basic primate assumptions. If you bring up the subject, expect to get responses from the most base, animal parts of the brain. That's not a complaint. There's nothing more obscene than a Brit style "stiff upper lip" as you maim and kill for empire. "Remember the Maimed!".

    The original question stands.

    Has a military base ever closed without becoming a superfund site?

  • Jiang (unverified)
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    Posted by: unimpressed kitteh | Feb 6, 2009 6:40:33 PM

    Zarathustra: "...I blog with irate Pakistanis living in Manchester, pablum puking conservatives and everything in-between, and I have to conclude that this is the rudest blog on the 'net. Happy trails, all..."

    ur doin it wron.

    u wouldnt last 1/2 a comment thread at even icanhascheezburger.com, you wus.

    kthxbye

    Can someone translate that? What is it?

    BTW, everyone that thinks pot shots are good fun. Would you not be offended if I used a line that said, "if you're on cholesterol drugs, just stop and go die. It's your fault and big pharma are keeping us dependent on petrol to support their manufacture"?

    I have to conclude that this is the rudest blog on the 'net.

    Z, you don't know your own popularity. Look, immediately after you posted that, folks started falling all over themselves to prove you right. I think they succeeded!

    And, yes, it is a full moon . If you right button click and save that link, it should run standalone wherever you save it and you'll never have to ask again.

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)
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    The Navy needs all this space to train in order to protect us from attacks by whom, exactly? Somali pirates? Our military is by far, the biggest waste of money in the world.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)
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    This thread is a good example of the right vs. far-right dialogue that dominates RP/DP "debate". Just as defunding the Iraq occupation turned into an argument over non-binding provisions for ending "the war" vs. never-ending war, this present argument never (although Zara touches on it tangentially) exposes the real solution: stop the outrageous, bloated military-security complex spending. We are gaining nothing from this (contrary to the absurd belief that we are being "protected"), and, in fact, we are destroying the opportunity for a decent life for our children.

  • Lani (unverified)
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    Thanks, Marie for getting the word out.

    The Navy has announced they've expanded their public comment phase out to February 18.

    Despite their attempt to sneak this transfer through, at least there's some hope of our Oregon politicians and organizations having an opportunity to comment on it.

  • Lani (unverified)
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    I would also like to thank Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Representatives Earl Blumenauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and David Wu, who asked the Navy to extend the public comment period and add additional public hearings in Oregon.

    Here's a copy of their letter. http://www.kgw.com/news/pdf/Navy.pdf

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