|From:||Lenny Siegel <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Date:||2 May 2002 20:29:54 -0000|
|Subject:||[CPEO-MEF] RRPI Round Over - the House Committee marks|
Round one in the fight over the Pentagon's Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative (RRPI) legislative proposal is done, and the results are mixed. The full House Armed Services Committee marked up the Fiscal Year 2003 Defense Authorization Act today, Wednesday, May 1, 2002, and reportedly, here's what happened: Section 2017(a). Critical Habitat for Threatened and Endangered Species. The Committee retained but modified the Defense Department language, designed to allow the military to use completion of an Integrated Natural Resources Management Plan to preclude the designation of Critical Habitat. We'll send out the actual new language when we receive it. Section 2017(b). Migratory Birds. In the wake of the court decision enjoining Navy bombing in the Northern Marianas, the Committee included the Defense Department language to allow the destruction of bird habitat by military readiness activities. Section 2017(c). Marine Mammals. The Committee decided not to include this language, which would have eased the definition of "harassment" of marine mammals, in the bill. Section 2018. Conformity with State Implementation Plans for Air Quality. The committee dropped this provision, too. It would have weakened the requirements for military compliance with the Clean Air Act. Section 2019. Range Management and Restoration. The committee did not adopt this language, either. It was designed to clarify limits on RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) and CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act) regulation of operational military munitions ranges. Critics, however, argued that it would also impact the regulation of munitions and explosive constituents on former ranges, as well as contamination likely to migrate off range. Sections 2020 and 2021. Agreements with Private Organizations to Address Encroachment and Other Constraints on Military Training, Testing, and Operations; and Conveyance of Surplus Real Property for Natural Resource Conservation Purposes. These two provisions, to authorize the Defense Department to spend money and transfer property to protect habitat or other environmental resources, sailed through without opposition. Hansen Amendment. This amendment, to allow overflights and other military actions in Utah wilderness areas, passed the Committee after a divisive debate. It was not included in the official Defense legislative proposal. The Defense Authorization Act moves to the House Rules Committee and then the House floor. Meanwhile, the Senate Armed Services Committee is taking briefings from the Defense Department and its critics. Currently controlled by the Democrats, the Senate Committee is likely to be more skeptical of Defense proposals than its House counterpart. So the legislation has many hoops to jump through before it is enacted into law. More than any other piece of Defense environmental legislation since the passage of the Federal Facilities Compliance Act in 1992, the Pentagon's RRPI has mobilized opposition from states and particularly environmental groups that normally pay scant attention, at least on the national level, to military activities. By proposing to modify a broad spectrum of environmental laws that those groups hold "sacred," the Defense Department guaranteed that they would organize their members and supporters, not just for round one, but through the final bell. Maybe that's good thing, because the problems addressed by the RRPI are real, and they require the attention of environmental activists as well as local, tribal, and state governments. However, the adversarial nature of the Capitol Hill fight may make it more difficult for all of the stakeholders to work together to solve those problems. The coalition opposing the legislation has affirmed its support for national security objectives. At some point, no matter what happens to the legislative proposals still in play, they should have the opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to reduce the tension between readiness and environmental protection. Lenny -- 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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