|From:||Lenny Siegel <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Date:||22 Mar 2002 23:25:40 -0000|
|Subject:||[CPEO-MEF] Encroachment legislative proposals|
ENCROACHMENT: WILL THE REAL DEFENSE DEPARTMENT PLEASE STAND UP? The U.S. armed services are clearly concerned about environmental constraints on "military readiness activities." They've been speaking out about the problem for a couple of years. But it's not clear, at this point, whether they prefer to cooperate with or roll over their critics, who include other governmental agencies as well as environmental and community organizations. On March 14, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Ray Dubois told a Congressional committee that the Department planned a balanced response, ranging from land-buying partnerships to dialogue to statutory relief. He promised to work with critics, testifying: "We have begun the necessary planning that will lead to the start of a national-level stakeholder involvement effort to discuss our range sustainability challenges. We are hopeful that such a process, which we hope to begin later this year, will not only lead to a greater understanding of our problems but that it will also lead to development of 'win-win' solutions for everyone." We have since learned that the legislative package that the Defense Department had already sent to the Office of Management and Budget for coordination with other federal agencies, was anything but balanced. Perhaps its drafters saw their proposals as simply a strong bargaining position, but as details leak out it's likely that other stakeholders will view the Defense package as political opportunism, a laundry list of legislative objectives that it hopes to have enacted while the country is in a heightened state of alert. Our sources say that the Defense proposals would: 1) Exempt combat weapons and equipment from the Noise Control Act 2) Exempt military readiness activities from enforcement under the Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan 3) Clarify that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act doesn't apply to the incidental consequences of training activities 4) Weaken the definition of harassment under the Marine Mammal Protection Act 5) Eliminate Critical Habitat designations, under the Endangered Species Act, on Defense Department lands governed by Integrated Natural Resources Management Plans 6) Clarify that munitions and explosive constituents are not pollutants under the Clean Water Act 7) Override conservation-based restrictions on military airspace 8) At operational ranges, define "solid waste" to exclude explosives, munitions, and their constituents and clarify that the deposition of explosives, munitions, and their constituents is not a release under CERCLA (the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act). The basic thrust of the Defense Department's legislative proposal is that it can be counted on to protect the environment voluntarily. Because environmental concerns - from sprawl to species protection - limit training and flight operations at a growing number of locations, "readiness" would trump environmental laws anywhere, anytime. The Bush Administration is expected to submit a modified package to Congress soon. Then we'll find out whether the Defense Department has chosen to assume an adversarial or a cooperative role with other stakeholders. -- Lenny Siegel Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041 Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545 Fax: 650/961-8918 <email@example.com> http://www.cpeo.org
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