2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 21 Feb 2002 20:12:13 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: Re: [CPEO-MEF] Digest for cpeo-military@igc.topica.com, issue 475
[POSTED BY Charles Jeff Douglas (Caseyjones9@hotmail.com)]


I am glad to see the recent flurry of posting addressing what I feel is 
the basic fallacy of the federal cleanup program.  As an environmental 
professional in the federal government cleanup business since 1984, I 
have grown to be in favor of making EPA the Lead Agent for cleanup for 
the whole Federal government.

Everyone agrees that the basic principle of the environmental cleanup 
program is that "The Polluter Pays."  This is reasonable.  The Federal 
government is a polluter, no question.  Under CERCLA and RCRA Corrective 
Action, the Federal government is obligated to clean up its historic 

Currently, every major Federal department/agency has its own in-house 
environmental organization to address its cleanup obligations.  These 
groups each spend hundreds of millions, to billions of dollars annually 
on environmental cleanup.  The Energy, Defense, Interior and Agriculture 
Departments are probably the major players in this regard. 

Each major Federal department/agency has a clearly defined mission.  
None of those missions include environmental cleanup.  Now, before 
everyone explodes, I agree, as should we all, that compliance with 
environmental laws by current operations is clearly within the mission 
of each department/agency.  But, cleanup of historic contamination?  I 
say no. 

EPA is the Federal government's expert on environmental cleanup.  EPA 
runs the Superfund program and conducts cleanups.  EPA's mission is 
environmental protection and environmental cleanup is an element of 
environmental protection. As the Federal government's expert in 
environmental protection and environmental cleanup, it is logical for 
EPA to be the cleanup lead agent for the entire Federal government. 

Lead agent status for the whole Federal Government should require EPA to 
staff for, budget for, and conduct all environmental cleanup projects 
for the Federal government. 

What about the principle of "Polluter Pays" you ask?  Well, the Federal 
government is the polluter.  EPA is an agency of the Federal government. 
 If EPA is budgeting for cleanup, then the Federal government, the 
polluter, is paying for its cleanup. 

You can expect significant resistance from within those Federal 
departments and agencies that manage their own cleanup programs, and 
from EPA itself.  This would involve breaking a LOT of rice bowls, but 
the reality is that by removing the cleanup program to EPA, the other 
departments/agencies would better be able to concentrate on their 
congressionally mandated missions and not have to allocate scarce 
resources to an expensive program that is not even within their 
mission-required area of expertise.  Their budgets would reflect the 
cost of maintaining their mission capabilities and would no longer be 
inflated to include non-mission environmental cleanup.

EPA has shown that it likes being able to set standards for cleanup 
without having to be responsible to pay the price to meet those 
standards.  It seems to forget that the Federal government is a single 
government.  EPA doesn?t want the responsibility for funding or 
conducting the Federal government cleanups because it doesn?t want the 
responsibility for addressing stakeholder, or the ever present 
political, pressures.  It definitely doesn't want to have to answer for 
the cost of the Federal government's environmental cleanup program. 

The taxpayers will benefit greatly by eliminating all those cleanup 
organizations in the individual departments/agencies.  An additional 
benefit will be that EPA, faced with the reality of having to budget for 
and execute the cleanup, will be forced to set rational, national 
standards based on real science and risk assessment.  Yes, EPA will have 
to staff up to take on this workload, but a well-managed EPA should not 
have to add as many positions to take over this function as will be 
eliminated throughout the other departments/agencies by eliminating 
their individual cleanup programs.  And, Congress will  have better 
oversight of the Federal government's cleanup program with a single 
agency responsible for the entire program. 

This will require legislative action to redefine EPA's and the other 
departments/agencies? roles and responsibilities, including rescinding 
or rewriting EO 12580, changes to CERCLA (Sect 120), 10 U.S.C. 2701-2709 
and 2810, and possibly changing the RCRA Corrective Action program.  
This would be an appropriate element of any reauthorization of CERCLA.  

EPA should be required to conduct pilot projects with each 
department/agency that has a lead agent role under EO 12580.  Within 
DoD, this concept could be piloted at a FUDS site, a BRAC installation, 
and an active installation.  The pilot demonstrations would allow the 
development of coordination protocols among the parties before expanding 
the program across the spectrum of Federal Facility cleanups.  The goal 
of the pilot demonstrations must be to make the program work, not to 
show why it can?t be done.

I understand that there is stakeholder distrust of the Government and 
its intentions,  However, before objecting to this proposal, those who 
are skeptical need to ask themselves how this change to the Federal 
Government cleanup program would reduce protection of human health and 
the environment.  

While we are at it, a single cleanup statute could be developed to 
eliminate the ever-present problem of RCRA/CERCLA integration in today?s 
cleanup programs.



Charles Jeff Douglas




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