2002 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 21 Dec 2002 04:25:37 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Excerpts from Dubois Press Conference
On Friday, December 20, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Installations
and Environment Ray Dubois held a press conference in which he discussed
a range of issues in his jurisdiction. The following excerpts from the
transcript address some of the questions of greatest interest to CPEO's
Military Environmental Forum. readers. - LS

[Range Readiness and Preservation Initiative]


   It is our view, my view, that what we presented last year is no less
important and no less compelling than this year. If anything, it is more
important than ever that we again engage the Congress in this dialog
over these issues. 

    What exactly will be in the administration's request I can't talk
to, other than to let you know from my personal standpoint the six
provisions that we suggested or urged the Congress to adopt remain, in
our view, very important. 

    Part of that was the request to amend the Endangered Species Act to
allow for a congressionally mandated requirement, the Sikes Act, allow
the Defense Department to use the mandated requirement under the Sikes
Act to provide critical habitat management under the integrated natural
resource management plans. 

    Now, so called INRMPs, as many of you know who study this, are a
very sophisticated way to holistically manage our property on test and
training ranges as well as installations. We think that it, in every
way, addresses critical habitat issues and focuses on the preservation
of real property and the maintenance of healthy and functional
ecosystems. Granted there is disagreement between us and some
environmental groups, albeit not all, in this regard, but we will raise
the issue again. 

    As opposed to prior BRACs -- we've got four of them -- they were
essentially service-centric. That is to say, the services, independent
of each other, wrestled with their own BRAC analysis, and at the end,
presented them to the secretary of defense. This secretary of defense
has said no. 

[Base Closure}


    We're going to turn that around. While there are certain operational
and military or service-centric, service-specific aspects of your real
estate that we will -- that services appropriately will address,
simultaneously there will be categories of functions or facilities which
I put into the basket called business operations as opposed to military
operations, which will be addressed in a cross-service way.
Cross-service analytic teams will be stood up to look at cross-service

    Now, you want to know which categories fall into that basket. The
Infrastructure Executive Council, on or before April 15th of next year,
will recommend to the secretary what those categories are. 

    Prior BRACs actually carved out certain categories -- initial pilot
training, laboratories, health care delivery or military treatment
facilities. I don't know precisely which categories and how they will be
carved out, will the IEC recommend to the secretary. I do know this,
that there's some, in my mind, obvious ones. 

[Base Closure Cleanup and Reuse]


    Do you have an estimate of how much it will cost to do the
environmental cleanup of a large BRAC round? 


    Remember that the environmental remediation bill is driven by what
you're going to use the land for. If you have a former -- as was the
case in prior BRACs -- shipyard, does it make sense to the American
taxpayer to remediate that shipyard to build a child daycare center on?
I would submit that doesn't make very much sense, because the cost would
be enormous, presuming you could even do it. 

    On the one hand -- on the other hand, cost-to-complete of the four
prior BRACs is now, in terms of environmental remediation, on the basis
of the proposed use of the land, is $3-plus billion, I think, is the
current cost-to-complete number. 

    Why does this number -- and this is what I found very interesting
when I got into this job now 18, 20 months ago. I looked at the cost-
to-complete projection year by year, and because we spend several
hundred million dollars every year to remediate BRAC properties,
environmentally, you would have thought that you would have seen a nice
step function where it goes down every year by the same amount of money
that was appropriated to deal with it every year. Not true, because
land-use decisions change year to year. 

    When the local redevelopment authority decides that they want to use
land for parks that has unexploded ordnance on it, that was a former
gunnery range, that -- and if that is the agreed upon use of the land --
remember what I said, agreed upon use of the land, the record of the
decision negotiated between the local redevelopment authority and the
Department of the Army -- if one were to say, "Let's create a playground
on a former gunnery range," first of all, we would say, "That's not --
that's an awfully expensive use of that piece of property; you really
ought to use the property over here on this installation for the
playground. Maybe what we ought to do is fence off the gunnery range and
create, by definition, critical habitat for endangered species, but not
have human beings wander around on it or build a condominium on it." 

    Point being, land use drives costs. And smart land use -- open
space, critical habitat, environmental management areas, vice industrial
parks, should a shipyard be used as a shipyard. 

    Imagine, if you will, the hypothetical that we closed, and we did in
the four prior BRACs, and it is now used as a shipyard, the
environmental clean-up is minimal. 

    See the point I'm making? 


    So DOD will have a say into what the re-use of the land would be? 


    It's DOD has a say now, insofar as we negotiate with local land,
local redevelopment authorities. Remember, their incentive is not to
stretch this thing out. Their incentive is to transit that prior
military-owned and -operated property into something that's economically
viable to the community. 

    For them to suggest that -- for a local redevelopment authority to
suggest that their desire to use the land for purpose A requires an
enormous environmental clean-up bill, which Congress is not necessarily
in the mood to appropriate, only extends the time to some form of
economic redevelopment. 

    So local redevelopment authorities are smart enough to recognize
that their objective is to use the land smartly and try to use it in
ways that it was used prior so that it doesn't require an enormous
amount of time and money for environmental remediation. 

[Environmental Funding, including R&D]


   The FY '03 request of the president for our environmental programs in
the Department of Defense was in excess of the FY '02. It was over $4.1

    The FY '04 environmental program request will be no less. 


    Than '03? 


    Than '03. The focus on environmental programs, which encompasses
everything from environmental clean-up, pollution prevention and
control, conservation programs, research and development -- which, you
know, here were talking $4.1 billion. That's a lot of money. 

    But out of that, it may not sound very much, but when you start
spending $60, $70, $80 million on research and development alone to how
to identify, characterize and remove unexploded ordnance on formally
used defense sites, we hope that that will yield a less expensive way to
deal with these situations, therefore, driving down the costs ultimately
over the next decade. 


    I like to refer to that. People forget that the Defense Department
is one, if not the biggest, investor in these kinds of R&D efforts in
the world. We have a good reason to do so, because, yes, we hope that
some of these new technologies under development will help us reduce the
environmental situations in various areas on various installations --
formerly used installations at a faster and less expensive cost. So we
have an incentive to do that. 


    But SERDP and ESTCP, the two research arms of DOD, were both cut
this year. 


    The '03 versus '02? 




    Remember that SERDP and ESTCP are OSD accounts. There is also
research and development being driven and funded by the individual
services, military departments. I'll take it for the record to determine
exactly what the year-to-year investments have been in toto, not just
SERDP and ESTCP, because I think we have to look at the total picture.
You raise an important issue and I will look into that. 



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

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