2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: joelf@cape.com
Date: Mon, 7 Feb 2000 11:09:13 -0800 (PST)
Reply: cpeo-military
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

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

"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,

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

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