2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 9 May 2002 15:15:15 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Congressmen Dingell and Rahall Urge for Debate on Defense Bill
May 9, 2002



Dear Colleague: 

        We urge you to vote to defeat the previous question on the rule 
for the Bob Stump National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2003 (H.R. 
4546) so that amendments may be offered to strike anti-environmental 
riders.   This legislation - while important to our national security 
and military preparedness - has been misused as a vehicle to bypass 
committee jurisdiction and public process in order to create  
unprecedented and unwarranted exemptions to key environmental laws.

        We would clearly have preferred that Members have the 
opportunity to vote directly to remove the harmful environmental 
provisions from H.R. 4546.  But the Committee on Rules has refused to 
give Members that choice.   Our amendment, which was cosponsored by 
eight of our colleagues,  would have strategically stricken both section 
311 and section 312, which unwisely exempt DoD from compliance with the 
Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act, respectively.  
Moreover, sweeping changes to these laws are unnecessary:  Section 7 of 
the ESA specifically provides for a national security exemption (which 
DoD has never invoked) and DoD and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 
are close to finalizing an administrative agreement to resolve Migratory 
Bird Treaty Act disputes. 

                In effect, proponents of these anti-environmental riders 
seek to accomplish through the back door of the Armed Services Committee 
and a closed rule what they could not through the front door of open 
public hearings and careful consideration in the regular legislative 
process.   While we fully appreciate the importance of military training 
and readiness, we also do not think that DoD, in the very limited public 
process to date, has made the case that exemptions to important and 
long-standing environmental laws are necessary or that training is 
greatly impaired because of those laws.   

        In fact, GAO - in a soon to be released report - will inform 
Congress that readiness data provided by the military does not indicate 
that environmental laws or other "encroachment" by urbanization has 
significantly affected training readiness.  To the contrary, DoD 
continues to report high levels of training readiness at almost all 

        In our view, the House should not be stampeded into gutting key 
environmental laws based on illusory and inconclusive allegations by 
DoD.   It defies logic that suddenly we should surrender to demands for 
new statutory exemptions so that the environment no longer matters to 
our largest and most powerful federal agency.  
        As longstanding proponents of these critical environmental laws, 
we urge you to vote NO on the previous question on the rule on H.R. 


/s                                                      /s 
NICK J. RAHALL, II                              JOHN D. DINGELL         
Ranking Democratic Member                       Ranking Democratic 
Committee on Resources                          Committee on Energy and 

Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA)    [Section 311 of H.R. 4546]  

The MBTA of 1918, one of our Nation's oldest and most enduring 
conservation statutes, sets forth U.S. obligations under the Convention 
for the Protection of Migratory Birds with Canada. It also provides 
implementing authority for subsequent Conventions with Mexico (1936), 
Japan (1972) and Russia (1976) which guide the cooperative conservation 
management of North America's migratory birds.

H.R. 4546 would unilaterally exempt military readiness activities from 
MBTA requirements. This would compromise U.S. international treaty 
obligations and could establish a negative precedent for other signatory 
nations to exempt their own activities from such obligations or consider 
other forms of retaliation. 

This bill would grant the military an unprecedented, far less-restricted 
self-regulatory authority. No federal agency or state has such an 

H.R. 4546 would negatively affect migratory bird management. Removing 
military readiness and training activities from compliance with the MBTA 
would likely increase unreported incidental mortalities. Migratory bird 
population estimates might become far less accurate, the listing of 
endangered species could increase, and regulated hunting seasons could 
be delayed or made more restrictive. 
A legislative "fix" is premature and unnecessary. Section 3 of the MBTA 
provides broad authority to the Secretary of the Interior to determine 
when the incidental "taking" of migratory birds is compatible and to 
develop regulations within the law's context. In fact, the Fish and 
Wildlife Service and Department of Defense are close to finalizing a 
Memorandum of Agreement establishing an administrative process to 
resolve migratory bird disputes. 

The U.S. has fought in two World Wars, the Korean War, Vietnam, and the 
Persian Gulf War with the MBTA in place. Since 1916 only ONE 
modification of this magnitude occurred (1997) and that was only after 
20 years of negotiation. 

Endangered Species Act (ESA) [Section 312 of H.R. 4546]         

The ESA requires, with limited exceptions, the designation of critical 
habitat for all endangered or threatened species.  Federal agencies are 
required to consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) 
under section 7 in order to avoid actions that destroy or adversely 
modify critical habitat. 

H.R. 4546 would exclude military lands from critical habitat designation 
under the ESA, if an Integrated Natural Resources Plan (INRMP) has been 

Blanket legislative exemptions are not needed. Section 7 of the ESA 
already provides an exemption for any agency action for reasons of 
national security. According to the USFWS, the Secretary of Defense has 
NEVER sought a section 7 exemption. 

Critical habitat designation has also been precluded pursuant to ESA, 
when concerns about the impacts on military training activities were 
It is the current practice of the USFWS to consider excluding areas 
covered by INRMPs from critical habitat designation if certain 
conservation criteria are met. Contrary to DoD assertions, the Clinton 
Administration did NOT determine that installations with INRMPs were 
automatically excluded from critical habitat designation. 

H.R. 4546 would require the USFWS to substitute an INRMP for critical 
habitat if "such plan addresses special management considerations or 
protections" with no further explanation or definition of this standard. 

INRMPs do NOT provide the same level of protection as critical habitat 

The ESA has been in place since 1973. Our military maintained its 
readiness throughout the Cold War and trained for and executed Operation 
Desert Storm in 1991 during the Persian Gulf war with current laws in 


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