2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 21 Feb 2002 00:30:36 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: RE: [CPEO-MEF] Digest for cpeo-military@igc.topica.com, issue 475

I am new to this listserve after serving in DOE for 8 years and 5 years 
before that at NRDC and for several years before that with a private 
consulting firm doing DOE work, I never had much time to look at extra 
stuff outside of required DOE reading and a little DOD reading. 

First, I am impressed that the listserve includes a wide variety of 
perspectives from people who do not always agree.  CPEO's sponsorship of 
a listserv that provides a true dialogue is extraordinarily valuable.  I 
hope the users appreciate how extraordinary this is.  There is certainly 
nothing like it focusing on DOE issues, where critics and advocates 
usually talk to themselves rather than each other.  It is a very 
unhealthy situation, and is fundamentally why DOE cleanup is so much 
slower and less efficient and effective, compared to DOD work, in 
general.  Also, I will be shamelessly
patriotic and say that this type of dialogue among people of diverse 
views is what is truly great about America.  Nobody gets jailed or shot 
or punched in the nose (well, not usually).  There are many cultures and 
countries where this type of dialogue does not occur.  Also, DOE folks 
could take a lesson from this listserve, rather than reading the old 
Soviet playbooks.

Second, regarding the issue of exemptions for federal facilities, the
writer working for the USAF is right on about the imprecise rhetoric, 
but narrowly wrong about the facts, as applied to DOE, at least.  Here 
are three exceptions for federal facilities:

1.  Federal facilities remain exempt from Clean Water Act fines and
penalties (see United States Dep't of Energy v. Ohio, 503 U.S. 607, 628 
(1992))  The FFCAct only addressed the RCRA exemption.

2. DOE is exempt from external regulation for low-level radioactive 
waste disposal (see http://www.eh.doe.gov/extreg/)

3. DOE remains exempt from OSHA regulation and NRC-regulated operational 
nuclear safety (with a few exceptions such as the HLW vit plant and 
UMTRA sites.

Many of us worked a lot from 1993-2001 to close these loopholes of
exemptions and self-regulation, but needed a bit more time to finish the 

Many communities feel it is unjust that federal facilities remain immune 
to the same rules that private companies must abide by.  Also, many feds 
feel it is unjust when regulators sometimes force federal facilities to 
do more cleanup than at comparable private situations (though there are 
examples where federal facilities get away with less because they are 
perceived to be long-time land users and there are examples where DOE 
contractors welcome the stricter cleanup requirements because they 
profit from the higher costs required).  Maybe there is a correlation 
between the injustices felt. 

Sorry if my patriotism offends anyone, but I just swell up shamelessly 
when I see people engaged in activities (like tolerance for diversity of 
views) that Americans can be rightly proud of.   Bully for CPEO for 
fostering this dialogue.

Jim Werner

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