2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 26 Oct 2003 20:14:56 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] "Pentagon, environmentalists battle..."
Pentagon, environmentalists battle over species protection
By Andrew Bridges
Associated Press (in San Jose Mercury News
Sunday, October 26, 2003

CAMP PENDLETON - Since this sprawling base was carved out of a cattle
ranch at the onset of World War II, Marines have stormed an unassuming
stretch of beach here countless times to train for battles from Iwo Jima
to An-Nasiriyah.

The Marines have subjected Red Beach, as the 1,500-yard piece of
Southern California sand is known, to punishing treatment in mock
exercises designed to prepare them for combat.

Now the Defense Department is doing battle over Red Beach itself, part
of a larger war the Pentagon is waging in Congress over the nation's
more than 425 military installations, the largest of which dot states
throughout the West -- from the 2 million acres of the White Sands
Missile Range in New Mexico to the 870,000 acres of Fort Wainwright in

The Pentagon fears that much of that land, originally set aside for its
exclusive use, could be snatched away from it by the Endangered Species
Act and other environmental laws that address everything from porpoises
to pollution. At stake, it argues, is the U.S. military's very ability
to train in peace as it fights in war.

To counter the perceived threat of laws such as the Superfund and Clean
Air Act, the Pentagon is pushing for exemptions.

``Use of the terrain is absolutely essential and is at the heart of our
training,'' said John Walsh, a special assistant in the Pentagon office
of the deputy undersecretary of defense for readiness. ``Those pieces of
terrain can't be reserved for the fostering of endangered species.''

Environmentalists vehemently oppose the initiative and call it an
unwarranted rollback of the nation's key environmental laws. They fear
other agencies could follow the Pentagon's lead and seek similar
exemptions, leading to an overall weakening of the laws.

``Essentially, it's an administrative and legislative strategy to exempt
them from key environmental laws that every American and every other
agency has to comply with,'' said Susan Holmes, senior legislative
representative for the environmental group Earthjustice.

The dispute comes at a time when military installations stand as rare
islands on the land that represent some of the best, if not last,
habitat for many of the nation's rarest species.


for the entire story, see


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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