2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 13 Mar 2003 17:51:23 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Military targets environmental law
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Military targets environmental law
By Julie Deardorff
Tribune staff reporter
Published March 13, 2003

The Pentagon on Thursday will ask the U.S. House and Senate Committees
on Armed Services to exempt the military from federal environmental laws
that top brass says are hampering military training.

The proposed legislation, called the Readiness and Range Preservation
Initiative, would excuse armed forces from major provisions of the Clean
Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Resource Conservation and
Recovery Act, the Superfund law and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Though a similar measure was defeated last year, the Defense Department
says the relaxed provisions are necessary to improve training across the
country. Without the changes, military units are forced into "pretend"
training, a disadvantage during a war on terrorism, the government

At the 125,000-acre Camp Pendleton in California, for example,
environmentalists' litigation may force the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service to designate more than half of the base as critical habitat--an
area considered necessary to the species survival. At the Goldwater
Range in Arizona, the Air Force redirects or cancels 30 percent of
live-drop missions every year to avoid jeopardizing an endangered
antelope called the Sonoran pronghorn.

"With the many restrictions placed on military training and weapons
testing in recent years, training is losing its realism," said a Defense
Department statement. The initiative is aimed only at activities that
relate to combat and military training and would not affect closed bases
or requirements to clean up old sites, it said.

Environmental groups, who will also testify Thursday, say the proposal
is part of the Bush administration's ongoing campaign to roll back
environmental protections. The exemptions are hidden in the National
Defense Authorization Act, a funding bill for the Defense Department
that is unrelated to environmental law, said Michael Jasny of the
Natural Resources Defense Council.

Moreover, the legislation is unnecessary, conservationists say, because
federal law already allows case-by-case exemptions when environmental
laws hurt troop readiness. And the secretary of defense has unilateral
authority to waive one law, the Endangered Species Act.

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