2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 25 Nov 2003 23:43:56 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Military gets break from environmental rules
Military gets break from environmental rules
President Bush is expected to sign a bill Monday easing restrictions on
DOD that deal with whales and rare species.
By Brad Knickerbocker
November 24, 2003 edition

With two wars in two years and the threat of terrorism likely to
continue, the US military wants all the help it can get in protecting
national security. It is an ideal time, supporters say, to reduce the
government regulations that can make it harder to be "mission-ready."

For others, however, this politically popular goal conflicts with
long-standing values. Specifically, the Department of Defense
authorization bill that President Bush is scheduled to sign Monday eases
the military's responsibility under two important environmental laws.

The bill allows the Navy to redefine "harassment" under the Marine
Mammal Protection Act, making it easier to use low- frequency sonar
suspected of harming whales and dolphins. The Pentagon's $401 billion
authorization bill for the 2004 fiscal year also exempts military bases
from stringent habitat-protection requirements under the federal
Endangered Species Act.

In addition, the Pentagon, as it has in the past, is seeking exemptions
to the Clean Air Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (which
governs hazardous waste), and the Superfund Act responsible for cleaning
up toxic-waste sites around the country. Last year, an exemption to the
Migratory Bird Treaty Act was granted the military as well.

The scope of the issue is enormous. The Defense Department oversees some
25 million acres of military bases and other training facilities. The
military's pollution problems - including corroding bombs and rockets,
and old chemical munitions now outlawed - date back over a century.

Over the years, military facilities have come to include 131
hazardous-waste sites on the federal Superfund priority list. They are
also home to more than 300 threatened or endangered species. Ironically,
the pressures of nearby urban development (especially in places like
southern California) have turned military ranges into prime habitat.

"As a member of the Armed Services Committee I have heard many times how
endangered species affect the activities of our military," says Sen.
James Inhofe (R) of Oklahoma, who also chairs the Senate Environment and
Public Works Committee. The US Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton in southern
California, for example, is home to 18 listed species - from the bald
eagle to the Riverside fairy shrimp.

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