2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 6 Feb 2003 22:52:37 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: Re: [CPEO-MEF] Defense Department Forum Focuses on Environment
On February 5, 2003, the Defense Department sponsored the "Inaugural"
Defense Environmental Forum. Hosted by the National Defense University
at Ft. McNair, District of Columbia, the forum brought together between
forty and fifty people from the U.S. military, other federal agencies,
environmental organizations, academia, industry, Congressional offices,
and state and local government. As many others, including a handful of
reporters, attended as observers. I was one of the participants.

The focus on the forum was encroachment: how to balance the national
security mission with environmental stewardship. Addresses by Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and General John M. Keane, Army
Vice-Chief of Staff, highlighted the importance of the encroachment
debate to the Defense Department. Though Wolfowitz's breakfast remarks
were covered by an entourage of mainstream media, the all-day
facilitated discussion was not for attribution.

Defense Department representatives underscored their belief that certain
environmental protection responsibilities restrict the ability of the
armed services to "train as they fight," and they promoted the
legislative provisions of the soon-to-be-reintroduced Readiness and
Range Preservation Initiative. In particular, they argued that without
modifications in the Marine Mammal Protection Act the Navy is unable to
test and deploy a sonar system designed to protect carrier battle groups
against enemy attacks.

Other participants, including myself, suggested that urban sprawl posed
a greater threat to military readiness than habitat protection
legislation. I challenged the military to work with environmental groups
to combat sprawl, set aside buffer zones, and promote habitat protection
outside of military training and testing ranges. There were just a few
participants from organizations critical of the Defense Department's
environmental performance, but those who attended expressed their
willingness to solve conflicts between readiness and the environment,
short of amending the environmental laws targeted by the Defense
legislative initiative.

There were several participants from land trust
organizations—environmental nonprofits whose primary activity is to
acquire and manage lands for conservation purposes, as opposed to
advocacy. They expressed enthusiasm for implementing buffer zone
legislation, provisions of the Readiness and Range Preservation
Initiative enacted last year. They urged the Defense Department to
establish priorities for the creation of buffer zones around ranges, to
develop templates for partnership agreements in support of such zones,
and to identify funds to implement the new law.

A number of participants asked the Defense Department to establish an
ongoing dialogue with other stakeholders. Because encroachment covers
many issues, we suggested the formation of work groups that would bring
together advocates and experts in each issue area.

The Defense Department is still working on its legislative package, and
it plans to introduce it soon. It seems willing to continue the
discussions begun at the February 5, Forum, but it has not yet made any
specific commitments.

Lenny Siegel

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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