2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 25 Mar 2003 16:03:57 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Invoking War to Ease Rules
March 22, 2003
Invoking War to Ease Rules

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has begun a campaign
it calls, portentously, "Operation End Extremism." The purpose is to
expose "the increasing burden U.S. soldiers face on military training
bases because of irrational enforcement of environmental laws." The
whole thing might be dismissed as another ideological stunt from the
committee's reactionary chairman, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, were it not
for the fact that the Pentagon is trying to do the same thing. With
White House backing, the Defense Department has asked Congress to
approve a program it calls the "Readiness and Range Preservation
Initiative," which would broadly exempt military bases and some
operations from environmental regulation.

The Pentagon's basic complaint, echoed by Mr. Inhofe, is that the laws
governing air pollution, toxic waste dumps, endangered species and even
marine mammals  most of which have been on the books for decades 
interfere with training and readiness exercises necessary for national
security. The Pentagon thus seeks a host of exemptions. For instance, it
would ease the hazardous waste laws to exclude explosives and other
potentially toxic material on firing ranges. It seeks exemptions from
the Endangered Species Act whenever its duty under that law to protect
animals interferes with training operations. And, environmentalists say,
the proposed law could transfer to state governments the enormous costs
of cleaning up thousands of contaminated sites on military property.

Of particular interest is the Marine Mammals Protection Act, which is
also the first target on Mr. Inhofe's hit list. The act is the nation's
one legal instrument for protecting whales, dolphins, sea otters,
manatees and the like. But the Navy claims that protecting these
creatures restricts its ability to test sonar and other underwater
detection devices. A recent court-ordered settlement makes about one
million square miles of ocean available for such testing but that,
apparently, is insufficient.

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