Friday, December 5, 2014

 

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 to 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.

Let me lay out three areas of concern: 1) The permitting process; 2) Public outreach; and 3) Outstanding questions regarding this proposal.

First, let me touch on the permitting process. 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. 

I’ve heard from several constituents that have asked about the relationship between the Department of Agriculture (under which the Forest Service sits) and the Department of Defense. You can view a copy of the 1988 agreement between the entities concerning the use of national forest system lands for military activity by clicking this link.

The US Forest Service is 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 public comment period for this project ended in November.

I have stated publicly that I was disappointed in the extent to which the public was notified about the comment periods for the Navy EA and for the Forest Service. In many impacted regions, neither local media outlets nor local public officials were informed. Thankfully, we were successful in getting the Forest Service to extend the public comment period to give more people in our region a chance to weigh in. I hope the Forest Service closely reviews and considers those comments.

Second, let me discuss the public outreach that has been done. As you may know, I have been critical of the Navy’s public outreach on this issue. It’s essential for folks in our region to have the opportunities they need to ask questions and weigh in with any concerns.

With that in mind, I asked the Navy to hold town hall meetings throughout our region. I am pleased that we were successful in getting them to hold meetings in Forks and Port Angeles. They also held one in Grays Harbor following the request of local stakeholders. It’s clear that more public outreach had to happen on the Peninsula.

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?

Finally, let me update you on some of the outstanding questions I have regarding this proposal. Last month, I sent a letter to the Navy leadership that is taking the lead on this proposed range. In my letter, I not only continued to ask for further public outreach, I also asked some very specific questions that I believe the Navy should answer to better understand any safety risks, environmental concerns, and other impacts. For example:

·  How many crew members will be observing the training site to ensure that no humans or animals are within 100 feet of the proposed “safety zone?” 

·  How will the Navy ensure that monitoring can effectively continue during times of low visibility, including nightfall? 

· How long would it take to shut down the emitter if a human or animal is observed within the safety zone? 

· Has the Navy established similar ranges elsewhere under the same conditions and have there been any documented effects on wildlife and the environment? 

· If the Forest Service approves the permits, how would the number, duration and frequency of aircraft flights in and around the Olympic Peninsula change? 

· What steps can be taken to mitigate the impact of increased aircraft noise?

In my view, these are legitimate questions that should be answered.

Our region is grateful for the Navy and those that serve in it. Our community at large functions best when open and honest dialogue – that is grounded in fact and science – occurs. 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.

Sincerely,

Derek Kilmer
Member of Congress

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Friday, December 4, 2014

 

Thank you for contacting me regarding proposed electronic warfare testing in Washington. I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue. 

On October 2, 2014, the U.S. Navy announced that it would conduct electronic warfare training over Navy property at Pacific Beach, Washington, as well as over U.S. Forest Service lands on the Olympic Peninsula. The planned training missions will involve fixed electronic emitters on Pacific Beach, as well as occasional use of mobile electronic emitter vans on U.S. Forest Service land. As you are likely aware, the Navy currently conducts in-flight exercises in these areas with aircraft based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.  I appreciate the concerns expressed by constituents about impacts of noise caused by flight training at NAS Whidbey and about how the placement of these electronic emitters may increase the number of training flights. Please be assured that I take these concerns very seriously, and will continue to monitor further developments in this matter. I continue to urge the Navy to engage in open dialogue with concerned citizens, and I will continue to work to promote transparency regarding the Navy’s training missions in the Pacific Northwest. Since being elected to the Senate, I have committed myself to protecting our nation’s environment and natural resources while ensuring Americans continue to have access to the outdoor recreational opportunities that they love. I believe we have a responsibility to protect our state and nation’s rugged natural beauty and pristine and historic lands for the collective benefit of current and future generations. From expanding Mt. Rainier National Park, to creating the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park at the mouth of the Columbia River, I have worked tirelessly to preserve our amazing natural treasures while boosting Washington’s recreation and tourism industries at the same time. I have also opposed making the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge available for oil exploration, and introduced the Roadless Area Conservation Act to protect 58.5 million acres of our nation’s last remaining pristine forestlands, including two million acres in Washington State. I will keep your thoughts in mind should I have the opportunity to consider legislation affecting the Navy’s planned training missions in the U.S. Senate. 
 

Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely, 
Maria Cantwell
United States Senator

For future correspondence with my office, please visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov/contact/.

United States Department of the Interior
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20240
FEB – 7 2014
In Reply Refer To: (ER 14/0001) (ER 14/0004 ).
Mr. Eli Veenendaal
National Telecommunications and Information
Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20230
Dear Mr. Veenendaal:
The Department of the Interior (Department) has reviewed the above referenced proposal and
submits the following comments and attachment for consideration. Because the First Responder
Network Authority (FirstNet) is a newly created entity, we commend the U.S. Department of
Commerce for its timely proposals for NEPA implementing procedures.
The Department believes that some of the proposed procedures are not consistent with Executive
Order 13186 Responsibilities of Federal Agencies to Protect Migratory Birds, which specifically
requires federal agencies to develop and use principles, standards, and practices that will lessen
the amount of unintentional take reasonably attributed to agency actions. The Department,
through the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), finds that the proposals lack provisions necessary
to conserve migratory bird resources, including eagles. The proposals also do not reflect current
information regarding the effects of communication towers to birds. Our comments are intended
to further clarify specific issues and address provisions in the proposals.
The Department recommends revisions to the proposed procedures to better reflect the impacts
to resources under our jurisdiction from communication towers. The placement and operation of
communication towers, including un-guyed, unlit, monopole or lattice-designed structures,
impact protected migratory birds in two significant ways. The first is by injury, crippling loss,
and death from collisions with towers and their supporting guy-wire infrastructure, where
present. The second significant issue associated with communication towers involves impacts
from non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation emitted by them (See Attachment).
In addition to the 14 7 Birds of Conservation Concern (BCC) species, the FWS has listed an
additional 92 species as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Together
with the bald and golden eagle, this represents 241 species of birds whose populations are in
trouble or otherwise merit special protection, according to the varying criteria of these lists. The
Department suggests that FirstNet consider preparing a programmatic environmental impact
statement (see attachment) to determine and address cumulative impacts from authorizing
FirstNet projects on those 241 species for which the incremental impact of tower mortality, when
added to other past, present, and reasonably foreseeable future actions, is most likely significant,
given their overall imperiled status. Notwithstanding the proposed implementing procedures, a
programmatic NEPA document might be the most effective and efficient method for establishing
best management practices for individual projects, reducing the burden to individual applicants,
and addressing cumulative impacts.
Categorical Exclusions
The Department has identified 13 of the proposed categorical exclusions (A-6, A-7, A-8, A-9, A-
10, A-11, A-12, A-13, A-14 A-15, A-16, A-17, and A-19) as having the potential to significantly
affect wildlife and the biological environment. Given this potential, we want to underscore the
importance of our comments on FirstNet’s procedural guidance under Environmental Review
and Consultation Requirements for NEPA Reviews and its list of extraordinary circumstances in
Appendix D.
Environmental Review and Consultation Requirements for NEPA Reviews
To ensure there are no potentially significant impacts on birds from projects that may otherwise
be categorically excluded, the Department recommends including the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act to the list of requirements in this section.
Extraordinary Circumstances
To avoid potentially significant impacts on birds from projects that may otherwise be
categorically excluded, the Department recommends including species covered under the
Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act to the list of
environmentally sensitive resources. Additionally, adding important resources to migratory birds
such as sites in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network and Audubon Important
Bird Areas to the paragraph on areas having special designation or recognition would help ensure
their consideration when contemplating use of a categorical exclusion.
Developing the Purpose and Need

The Department recommends inclusion of language that would ensure consideration of all other
authorities to which NEPA is supplemental as opposed to simply the FirstNet mission. As
currently written, the procedures are limited to ensuring the purpose and need considers the
FirstNet mission. If strictly applied, this approach would severely limit the range of reasonable
alternatives, and likely preclude consideration of more environmentally benign locations or
construction practices.
Environmental Review Process, Apply NEP A Early in the Process, Where Action is by
Non-Federal Entity
The Department recommends that FirstNet be required to coordinate with federal agencies
having jurisdiction by law or special expertise on construction and lighting of its network of
towers.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the draft document. If you have any questions
concerning the comments, please contact Diana Whittington, NEP A Migratory Bird lead, at
(703) 358-2010. If you have any questions regarding Departmental NEPA procedures, contact
Lisa Treichel, Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance at (202) 208-7116.

Enclosure

Willie R. Taylor
Director, Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance

 

 

Literature Cited
Longcore, T., C. Rich, P. Mineau, B. MacDonald, D.G. Bert, L.M. Sullivan, E. Mutrie, S.A. Gauthreaux,
Jr., M.L. Avery, R.C. Crawford, A.M. Manville, II, E.R. Travis, and D. Drake. 2013. Avian mortality
at communication towers in the United States and Canada: which species, how many, and where?
Biological Conservation 158: 410-419.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2008. Birds of Conservation Concern, 2008. United States Department of
Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management, Arlington, VA.
85 pages. http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds.

Enclosure A

Background

The placement and operation of communication towers, including un-guyed, unlit, monopole or
lattice-designed structures, impact protected migratory birds in two significant ways.
The first is by injury, crippling loss, and death from collisions with towers and their supporting
guy-wire infrastructure, where present. Mass mortality events tend to occur during periods of
peak spring and fall songbird bird migration when inclement weather events coincide with
migration, and frequently where lights (either on the towers and/or on adjacent outbuildings) are
also present. This situation has been well documented in the U.S. since 1948 in the published
literature (Aronoff 1949, see Manville 2007a for a critique). The tallest communication towers
tend to be the most problematic (Gehring et al. 2011). However, mid-range (~400-ft) towers as
proposed by the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet, a newly created entity under the
Department of Commerce) can also significantly impact protected migratory birds, as can unguyed
and unlit lattice and monopole towers (Gehring et al. 2009, Manville 2007a, 2009, 2013a).
Mass mortalities (more than several hundred birds per night) at unguyed, unlit monopole and
lattice towers were documented in fall2005 and 2011 in the Northeast and North Central U.S.
(e.g., Manville 2007a). It has been argued that communication towers including “short” towers
do not impact migratory birds, including at the population level (e.g., Arnold and Zink 2011), but
recent findings have contradicted that assertion (Manville 2007a, 2013a, Longcore et al. 2012,
2013).
The second significant issue associated with communication towers involves impacts from nonionizing
electromagnetic radiation emitted by these structures. Radiation studies at cellular
communication towers were begun circa 2000 in Europe and continue today on wild nesting
birds. Study results have documented nest and site abandonment, plumage deterioration,
locomotion problems, reduced survivorship, and death (e.g., Balmori 2005, Balmori and
Hallberg 2007, and Everaert and Bauwens 2007). Nesting migratory birds and their offspring
have apparently been affected by the radiation from cellular phone towers in the 900 and 1800
MHz frequency ranges- 915 MHz is the standard cellular phone frequency used in the United
States. However, the electromagnetic radiation standards used by the Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) continue to be based on thermal heating, a criterion now nearly 30 years out
of date and inapplicable today. This is primarily due to the lower levels of radiation output from
microwave-powered communication devices such as cellular telephones and other sources of
point-to-point communications; levels typically lower than from microwave ovens. The
problem, however, appears to focus on very low levels of non-ionizing electromagnetic
radiation. For example, in laboratory studies, T. Litovitz (personal communication) and DiCarlo
et al. (2002) raised concerns about impacts of low-level, non-thermal electromagnetic radiation
from the standard 915 MHz cell phone frequency on domestic chicken embryos- with some
lethal results (Manville 2009, 2013a). Radiation at extremely low levels (0.0001 the level
emitted by the average digital cellular telephone) caused heart attacks and the deaths of some
chicken embryos subjected to hypoxic conditions in the laboratory while controls subjected to
hypoxia were unaffected (DiCarlo et al. 2002). To date, no independent, third-party field studies
have been conducted in North America on impacts of tower electromagnetic radiation on
migratory birds. With the European field and U.S. laboratory evidence already available,
independent, third-party peer-reviewed studies need to be conducted in the U.S. to begin
examining the effects from radiation on migratory birds and other trust species.
Discussion

Collision Deaths and Categorical Exclusions

Attempts to estimate bird-collision mortality at communication towers in the U.S. resulted in
figures of 4-5 million bird deaths per year (Manville 2005, 2009). A meta-review of the
published literature now suggests, based on statistically determined parameters, that mortality
may be 6.8 million birds per year in Canada and the U.S.; the vast majority in the United States
(Longcore eta!. 20 12). Up to 3 50 species of birds have been killed at communication towers
(Manville 2007a, 2009). The Service’s Division of Migratory Bird Management has updated its
voluntary, 2000 communication tower guidelines to reflect some of the more recent research
findings (Manville 2013b). However, the level of estimated mortality alone suggests at a
minimum that FirstNet prepare an environmental assessment to estimate and assess the
cumulative effects of tower mortality to protected migratory birds.
A second meta-review of the published mortality data from scientific studies conducted in the
U.S. and Canada (Longcore eta!. 2013) strongly correlates population effects to at least 13
species of Birds of Conservation Concern (BCC, USFWS 2008). These are mortalities to BCC
species based solely on documented collisions with communication towers in the U.S. and
Canada, ranging from estimated annual levels of mortality of 1 to 9% of their estimated total
population. Among these where mortality at communication towers was estimated at over 2%
annually are the Yellow Rail, Swainson’s Warbler, Pied-billed Grebe, Bay-breasted Warbler,
Golden-winged Warbler, Prairie Warbler, and Ovenbird. Longcore eta!. (2013) emphasized that
avian mortality associated with anthropogenic sources is almost always reported in the
aggregate, i.e., “number of birds killed,” which cannot detect species-level effects necessary to
make effective and meaningful conservation assessments, including determining cumulative
effects. These new findings strongly suggest the need for at least an environmental assessment
by FirstNet, or more likely, an environmental impact statement.
Radiation Impacts and Categorical Exclusions

There is a growing level of anecdotal evidence linking effects of non-thermal, non-ionizing
electromagnetic radiation from communication towers on nesting and roosting wild birds and
other wildlife in the U.S. Independent, third-party studies have yet to be conducted in the U.S. or
Canada, although a peer-reviewed research protocol developed for the U.S. Forest Service by the
Service’s Division of Migratory Bird Management is available to study both collision and
radiation impacts (Manville 2002).
As previously mentioned, Balmori (2005) found strong negative correlations between levels of
tower-emitted microwave radiation and bird breeding, nesting, and roosting in the vicinity of
electromagnetic fields in Spain. He documented nest and site abandonment, plumage
deterioration, locomotion problems, reduced survivorship, and death in House Sparrows, White
Storks, Rock Doves, Magpies, Collared Doves, and other species. Though these species had
historically been documented to roost and nest in these areas, Balmori (2005) did not observe
these symptoms prior to construction and operation of the cellular phone towers. Balmori and
Hallberg (2007) and Everaert and Bauwens (2007) found similar strong negative correlations
among male House Sparrows. Under laboratory ‘conditions, DiCarlo et al. (2002) raised
troubling concerns about impacts of low-level, non-thermal electromagnetic radiation from the
standard 915 MHz cell phone frequency on domestic chicken embryos- with some lethal results
(Manville 2009). Given the findings of the studies mentioned above, field studies should be
conducted in North America to validate potential impacts of communication tower radiation both
direct and indirect – to migratory birds and other trust wildlife species.

 

Literature Cited
Arnold, T. W., and R.M. Zink. 2011. Collision mortality has no discernable effect on population trends of
North American birds. Plos ONE 6:e24708.
Aronoff, A. 1949. The September migration tragedy. Linnaean News-Letter 3(1):2.
Balmori, A. 2005. Possible effects of electromagnetic fields from phone masts on a population of White
Stork ( Ciconia ciconia ). Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine 24: 109-119.
Balmori, A., and 0. Hallberg. 2007. The urban decline of the House Sparrow (Passer domesticus): a
possible link with electromagnetic radiation. Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine 26:141-151.
DiCarlo, A., N. White, F. Guo, P. Garrett, and T. Litovitz. 2002. Chronic electromagnetic field exposure
decreases HSP70 levels and lowers cytoprotection. Journal Cellular Biochemistry 84: 447-454.
Everaert, J., and D. Bauwens. 2007. A possible effect of electromagnetic radiation from mobile phone
base stations on the number of breeding House Sparrows (Passer domesticus). Electromagnetic
Biology and Medicine 26:63-72.
Gehring, J., P. Kerlinger, and A.M. Manville, II. 2009. Communication towers, lights, and birds:
successful methods of reducing the frequency of avian collisions. Ecological Applications
19:505-514.
Gehring, J., P. Kerlinger, and A.M. Manville, II. 2011. The role of tower height and guy wires on avian
collisions with communication towers. Journal of Wildlife Management 75: 848-855.
Longcore, T., C. Rich, P. Mineau, B. MacDonald, D.G. Bert, L.M. Sullivan, E. Mutrie, S.A. Gauthreaux,
Jr., M.L. A very, R.C. Crawford, A.M. Manville, II, E.R. Travis, and D. Drake. 2012. An estimate of
avian mortality at communication towers in the United States and Canada. PLoSONE 7( 4) 17 pp,
Open Access.
Longcore, T., C. Rich, P. Mineau, B. MacDonald, D.G. Bert, L.M. Sullivan, E. Mutrie, S.A. Gauthreaux,
Jr., M.L. Avery, R.C. Crawford, A.M. Manville, IT, E.R. Travis, and D. Drake. 2013. Avian mortality
at communication towers in the United States and Canada: which species, how many, and where?
Biological Conservation 158: 410-419.
Manville, A.M., II. 2002. Protocol for monitoring the impacts of cellular telecommunication towers on
migratory birds within the Coconino, Prescott, and Kaibab National Forests, Arizona. Peer-reviewed
research monitoring protocol requested by and prepared for the U.S. Forest Service. Division of
Migratory Bird Management, USFWS. 9 pp, March 2002.
Manville, A.M., II. 2005. Bird strikes and electrocutions at power lines, communication towers, and wind
turbines: state of the art and state of the science – next steps toward mitigation. Pages 1051-1 064 In
C.J. Ralph and T.D. Rich (eds), Bird Conservation Implementation in the Americas: Proceedings 3’ct
International Partners in Flight Conference, U.S.D.A. Forest Service Gen. Technical Report PSWGTR-
191, Albany, CA.
Manville, A.M., ll. 2007a. Comments of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service submitted electronically to
the FCC on 47 CFR Parts 1 and 17, WT Docket No. 03-187, FCC 06-164, Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, “Effects of Communication Towers on Migratory Birds.” February 2, 2007. 32 pp.
Manville, A.M., II. 2007b. U.S. Fish and Wildlife concerns over potential radiation impacts from cellular
communication towers on migratory birds and other wildlife- research opportunities. Invited
Presentation to “Congressional Staff Briefmg on the Environmental and Human Health Effects of
Radiofrequency (RF) Radiation,” House Capitol 5, Washington, DC. 16 page PowerPoint
presentation. May 10, 2007.
Manville, A.M. II. 2009. Towers, turbines, power lines and buildings- steps being taken by the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service to avoid or minimize take of migratory birds at these structures. Pages 262-272
in T.D. Rich, C. Arizmendi, D.W. Demarest, and C. Thompson (eds.). Tundra to Tropics: Connecting
Birds, Habitats and People. Proceedings 4th International Partners in Flight Conference, McAllen,
.Texas.
Manville, A.M., II. 2011. Estimates of annual human-caused mortality to North American birds (with
literature citations). Division of Migratory Bird Management, USFWS, for public distribution.
12 pages.
Manville, A.M., IT. 2013a. Anthropogenic-related bird mortality focusing on steps to address humancaused
problems. A White Paper for the Anthropogenic Panel, 5’h International Partners in Flight
Conference, Snowbird, Utah. August 27, 2013. 16 page peer-reviewed White Paper.
Manville, A.M., IT. 2013b. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) revised guidelines for
communication tower design, siting, construction, operation, retrofitting, and decommissioning-Suggestions
based on previous USFWS recommendations to FCC regarding WT Docket No. 03-187,
FCC 06-164, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, “Effects of Communication Towers on Migratory
Birds,” Docket No. 08-61, FCC’s Antenna Structure Registration Program, and Service 2012 Wind
Energy Guidelines. Division of Migratory Bird Management, Arlington, VA. 5 pages.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2008. Birds of Conservation Concern, 2008. United States Department of
Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Migratory Bird Management, Arlington, VA. 85
pages. http://www.fivs.gov/migratorybirds.

Taylor, Willie R., Director of Environmental Policy and Compliance, U.S. Dept of Interior (ER 14/0001) (ER 14/0004) to Veenendaal, Eli, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, US Dept of Commerce.
RE: NEPA and Exec Order 13186 Responsibilities of Federal Agencies to Protect Migratory Birds.