2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 13 Mar 2003 16:05:08 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Pentagon battles environmentalists on training-ground laws
Pentagon battles environmentalists on training-ground laws
By Tim Friend, USA TODAY

A war between the Pentagon and leading environmental groups intensifies
this week over whether the military should be exempted from key
environmental laws.

The House and Senate hold separate hearings Thursday to hear arguments
from Department of Defense officials responsible for military
installations and military training operations.

But leading environmental groups, including the National Resources
Defense Council, will present their side of the debate today at a press
briefing in Washington.

The Pentagon first asked Congress for exemptions last spring but was
rebuffed. The House said it needed more time to consider the issues. The
debate centers on five key environmental laws: the Clean Air Act, the
Endangered Species Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act and the Comprehensive Environmental
Response, Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund).

The Pentagon says the laws hinder military training.

Military officials say they have no intention of wantonly polluting or
destroying wildlife, but current laws are too restrictive.

The laws allow exemptions on a case-by-case basis, but officials say
they are forced to waste time seeking exemptions every time an
environmental issue conflicts with training.

The Pentagon argues urban sprawl sometimes forces wildlife onto military
bases, which are the only remaining open spaces in areas such as San
Diego. During training for beach landings, Navy officials say troops
storm the beach and take buses to an unprotected area to dig trenches as
they would in combat. Another often-cited example: migratory birds
sucked into the jet engines of aircraft based on Guam have prompted
lawsuits and grounded training flights.

Environmental groups argue that exemptions would allow the military to
pollute the environment and endanger public health with impunity. They
say the DOD is the biggest single polluter in the USA, responsible for
contaminating up to 25 million acres and endangering the health of
communities that surround bases.

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