2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 19 Apr 2002 21:07:48 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] ASTSWMO Letter
The following letter concerning the Sustainable Defense Readiness and 
Environmental Protection Act (SDREPA) was sent to state officials 
earlier this week:

The Honorable W.J. "Billy" Tauzin			
The Committee on Energy and Commerce				
2125 Rayburn House Office Building	
Washington, DC 20515-6115				

The Honorable John D. Dingell
Ranking Minority Member
The Committee on Energy and Commerce
2322 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-6115

April 16, 2002

Dear Massrs:

It is our understanding that there is an emerging Department of Defense 
proposal for modification of a number of basic environmental statutes 
designed to provide relief from certain requirements in order to 
facilitate military training.  The purpose of this letter is to request 
the assistance of the leadership of the House Energy and Commerce 
Committee in ensuring that there is a thorough review of this proposal 
by each Congressional committee with jurisdiction over these 
environmental statutes.  By a thorough review we mean legislative 
hearings with opportunity for testimony by knowledgeable, expert 
witnesses representing all sides of the debate, who can assist the 
Congress in assessing the trade-offs and costs of the proposal.

The Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management 
Officials (ASTSWMO) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization made up 
of State employees who are responsible for the hazardous waste, solid 
waste, cleanup and remediation, and underground storage tanks programs 
of the States and Territories of the U.S.  Our members generally have 
engineering and science backgrounds, and implement both delegated 
federal waste and cleanup programs, as well as parallel State programs.  
They have hundreds of years of collective experience in expert program 
implementation and believe that it is their obligation to share their 
professional views with members of Congress with the responsibility for 
decisions affecting our national environmental statutory framework.

We have examined an early draft of the "Sustainable Defense Readiness 
and Environmental Protection Act" (SDREPA) that we understand to be 
under development by DoD.  Insofar as it addresses the hazardous waste 
regulatory and cleanup implications of the Resource Conservation 
Recovery Act/Solid Waste Disposal Act and the Comprehensive 
Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, we have 
substantial concerns with the current wording.  Understanding the 
motivations of the drafters to seek greater flexibility for military 
training, we believe that it provides insufficient protections for 
citizens and the environment following implementation of these requested 
relief provisions.  Our central point is that fundamental changes like 
these should not be made with a legislative vehicle developed by and for 
defense authorizations or appropriations.

We view this proposal from the historical perspective that past military 
operations have left a legacy of contamination that will take billions 
of dollars and several decades to deal with.  Consequently, we are very 
reluctant to amend sound environmental statutes in ways that could open 
the door to new releases to the environment.  In the past DoD has 
continually maintained that it has seen compliance and protection of 
natural resources as part of its national security mission, but it is 
difficult to reconcile these kinds of fundamental and far reaching 
changes to environmental statutes with those representations.  Our 
experience is that delaying cleanup and compliance with hazardous waste 
laws only increases the eventual cost and difficulty of cleanups.  We 
took DoD's promise of its intent to become a model of environmental 
compliance seriously, and we think that any changes made to enhance 
military readiness must be accomplished without damage to that goal.

Statutory changes that will affect environmental impacts on populations 
and the environment should be made in the same environmental arena where 
those statutes were created and debated.  For that reason, we urge you 
to exercise your jurisdiction over these proposed modifications, conduct 
hearings, take diverse testimony, and make the final judgments about the 
efficacy of these changes with full input, debate and understanding of 
their long-term effects on the country.  Like all good citizens, we too 
want to see military training enhanced and improved, and we are willing 
to subject our analysis and suggested adjustments to the full range of 
public dialogue.  We believe the potential consequences of this 
legislation are of such significance that all parties should be willing 
to undergo this same scrutiny.

We are confident that with full analysis and debate, appropriate 
modifications can be found and made to allow attainment of maximum force 
readiness without long-term cost to the nation's environment and the 
safety of its citizens.  We trust that you will seek such a course of 
legislative balance as this DoD proposal is eventually introduced to 
Congress.  Thank you for considering this request and for your continued 
interest in our national environment.

	Mark P. Giesfeldt
	ASTSWMO President


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