2000 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2000 13:08:19 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Fines and Penalties provision compromised further
The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2001, H.R. 5408,
will soon be enacted with a further compromise on the Fines and
Penalties provision. Originally included in the Senate Committee version
of the bill as Section 342, this section would have required
Congressional approval of all environmental fines and penalties over
$1.5 million levied by state and federal regulatory agencies. The
Committee inserted the provision in reaction to an unusually large fine
that U.S. EPA was levying against the Army's Fort Wainwright, located in
Fairbanks, Alaska, for continuing violations of the Clean Air Act.
Appropriations Committee chair Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) had slipped a
similar, one-year provision (section 8149) into the previous year's
Defense Appropriations Act, and it looked like it would become permanent
in this year's Authorization Act.

However, the final Senate version of the bill limited the provision to
federal - that is U.S. EPA - fines and penalties, and the House bill
contained no similar language. This month (October, 2000), the
House-Senate Conference Committee further limited the Stevens-initiated
provision to deal only with Fort Wainwright. Section 314 of the
Conference version of H.R. 5408 reads: "The Secretary of Defense, or the
Secretary of the Army, may pay, as part of a settlement of liability, a
fine or penalty of not more than $2,000,000 for matters addressed in the
Notice of Violation issued on March 5, 1999, by the Administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency to Fort Wainwright, Alaska."

In their report, the Conferees noted: "a number of questions have been
raised about the manner in which environmental compliance fines and
penalties are assessed by state and federal enforcement authorities.
Therefore, the conferees direct the Secretary of Defense to submit a
report to the congressional defense committees no later than March 1,
2002, that includes an analysis of all environmental compliance fines
and penalties assessed and imposed at military facilities during fiscal
years 1995 through 2001. The analysis shall address the criteria or
methodology used by enforcement authorities in initially assessing the
amount of each fine and penalty. Any current or historical trends
regarding the use of such criteria or methodology shall be identified."

Finally, the Authorization bill contains authorization for the military
to pay a number of other environmental fines, presumably in response to
Section 8149.

The House passed the Conference version on Wednesday, October 11, and
the Senate is expected to pass it today, Friday the 13th. The President
is expected to sign the legislation soon.

Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 222B View St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/968-1126

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