2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 23 Oct 2002 15:00:20 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Sen. Jeffords, Lieberman, and Leahy Oppose DoD Exemptions from Envi
October 22, 2002

Senators Jeffords, Lieberman, and Leahy Oppose Exemptions for Defense
Department from Environmental Laws
- Call on DOD Authorization Conferees to Reject House Actions to Weaken
Environmental Protections -

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Sens. Jim Jeffords, I - Vt., Joseph Lieberman, D -
Conn., and Patrick Leahy, D - Vt., today voiced strong opposition to a
series of exemptions from environmental laws in the Department of
Defense (DOD) Authorization bill for FY 2003. The legislation is
currently in a House/Senate Conference Committee.

The House version of the bill (H.R. 4546) includes broad exemptions from
the Endangered Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. These
exemptions were requested by the Department of Defense as part of the
Range Readiness and Preservation Initiative. The Senate version does not
contain any of those exemptions.

Jeffords, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public
Works said, "Blanket legislative exemptions, such as those found in the
House authorization bill, are simply not needed. Both the Endangered
Species Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act already grant the military
special flexibility to meet training needs. The American people
understand the military's need to train, but government agencies are not
above the law."

Lieberman said, "Chairman Levin has worked diligently to mitigate any
weakening of our environmental laws through these provisions, and I
applaud his leadership. But it remains my position that, when profound
changes to our environmental protection regime are at stake, we should
not go through the legislative backdoor or side door. We owe it to the
American people to go through the front door-and that should have
entailed full consideration of the proposals in the Environment and
Public Works committee."

Leahy said, "The House is trying to create a big loophole in our
environmental laws for a problem that just doesn't exist. For years the
Interior and Defense Departments have been successfully cooperating in
meeting military readiness needs without this loophole."

Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act provides an exemption for any
agency action for reasons of national security. According to the Fish
and Wildlife Service, the Secretary of Defense has never sought a
Section 7 exemption. In the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Secretary of
the Interior currently has wide discretion under Section 3 of the Act to
determine when the incidental "taking" or killing of migratory birds is
permissible for the armed forces and to develop permit regulations
within the law's conservation context. In fact, the Fish and Wildlife
Service and Department of Defense are close to finalizing a Memorandum
of Agreement that would establish an administrative process to resolve
future migratory bird disputes.

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