|Date:||Mon, 7 Feb 2000 11:09:13 -0800 (PST)|
|Subject:||[CPEO-MEF] Clinton Orders on Vieques Threaten Environment, Democracy.|
Fellow Environmentalists: President Clinton's Orders concerning the resumption of Naval Bombardment of Vieques represent a threat to everyone concerned about environmental justice. Stripped to its essentials, the deal struck between Clinton and Puerto Rican Governor Rossello amounts to bribery and blackmail. If the people of Vieques end their occupation of the Impact Area and permit the Navy to resume bombing with "inert" weapons, the Island will receive $40 million, earmarked for a variety of development projects. A referendum will be held "on May 1, 2001, or 270 days prior to or following May 1, 2001, the exact date to be specified on the request of the Department of the Navy." The order states: "This referendum will present two alternatives. The first shall be that the Navy will cease all training not later than May 1, 2003. The second will permit continued training, to include live fire training, on terms proposed by the Navy. Live fire training is critical to enhance combat readiness for all our military personnel and must occur in some location." If the referendum decides in favor of naval bombardment, the Office of Management and Budget will request an additional appropriation of $50 million. The total bribe comes to $90 million or $10,000 for each person on the Island. Of course, Clinton won't be in office at time to enforce the order. That's the bribe offer. It is astounding that the Navy gets to select the time and terms of the referendum. Traditionally, referenda are the last resort of the people to exert their will against governmental authority. Clinton's order represents a perversion of that tradition. If the Viequenses turn down the bribe, the Navy will have to leave, but a minimal level of cleanup, after 60 years of bombing, is specified in the order: "The GSA will supervise restoration of the lands ... consistent with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CEREAL) before it is further transferred under the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act, except that the Live Impact Area will be swept for ordnance and fenced to meet the same range standards used after the closure of the live impact area used by Naval Air Station, South Weymouth, Massachusetts." South Weymouth is not far from Cape Cod, but no one around here, including EPA officials have ever heard of the "Weymouth Standard"--we're still searching, but we believe that the area in question is an unimhabited bit of island called "No Man's." Clinton is sanctifying, as environmental cannon, what seems merely to be an internal naval standard. Clinton's directives are nothing but environmental lawlessness. The impact area itself is about 900 acres, but the area actually affected by stray bombs is estimated to be between 2,000 and 3,000 acres, about 10 percent of the Island. If the Viequenses turn down perpetual live fire, they get a fence around buried unexploded ordnance that will perpetually threaten the integrity of their groundwater and place a perpetual blight upon lovely tropical dunes. That is the blackmail. Since when does environmental policy get determined by order of the President? The environmental laws that pertain to the fifty States also apply Puerto Rico. Clinton is establishing a dangerous precedent. Executive order by an unsympathetic President could deprive any of us of the full protection of environmental regulation. On Cape Cod, years of active public participation, together with the courageous policies of EPA Region 1, have provided the highest possible level of investigation and cleanup: that ordered by EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Army National Guard is required to remove all unexploded ordnance, surface and subsurface, from the impact area. Destruction of UXOs is to occur in a demolition chamber with emissions passed through activated carbon. Remediation is ordered of groundwater plumes polluted by carcinogenic explosives. EPA has ordered that the soil near small arms ranges be tested for toxic propellants to determine whether "green" munitions are truly harmless. The Army National Guard has bridled at these orders, unsuccessfully, but militantly, trying to marshal support in Washington and among local politicians. The Guard would like less strenuous standards to apply, like CERCLA, or the "Range Rules," or perhaps, the "Weymouth Standard". For now, regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act is in place. However, we cannot be certain that some Presidential Directive will change all that. I believe that all of us, despite the urgent pressures of our own struggles, should add our voices to stopping the injustice that has been perpetrated on the people of Vieques. The issue in Vieques has yet to be decided. Religious and political groups of all denominations are occupying the impact area in increasing numbers. Local fisherman are patrolling waters that the Navy once controlled by the Navy. Attorney General Janet Reno must mobilize a force of U.S. Marshals to remove the protesters from among the unexploded bombs. Our voices can still be decisive. Joel Feigenbaum ph: (508) 833-0144 24 Pond View Drive E. Sandwich MA 02537 You can find archived listserve messages on the CPEO website at http://www.cpeo.org/lists/index.html. 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