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Military Bid For Environmental Relief Is Debated
Dingell Wary Of Pentagon's Assessment Of Enviro Laws
Indefensible Pollution
Defense Exemption From Waste Laws Should Be Site-Specific, Utilities Say
Military Seeks More Exemptions From Environmental Regulations
Allard Calls Salazar Wrong On Cleanups
House panel passes bill to exclude non-native birds from migratory bird law
Judge Puts Brakes on Navy Jet Landing Field
N.C. Task Force Pushing Alternate Site For Navy Landing Field
Senators Open to New Federal Policy Idea But Question Funding, Governance Structure
DoD Leader Notes Department's Environmental Record
______________________________________________________________
Use of these articles does not constitute official endorsement. Reproduction
for private use or gain is subject to original copyright restrictions.
______________________________________________________________

San Diego Union Tribune

April 22, 2004

Military Bid For Environmental Relief Is Debated

The Dispute Runs Along Party Lines

By Otto Kreisher, Copley News Service

WASHINGTON - The military's renewed effort to get relief from some of the environmental laws that officials say could restrict training necessary to prepare troops for combat triggered a partisan dispute in a House committee hearing yesterday.

Most Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee appeared willing to approve the requested exemptions and clarification to ensure that training was not affected.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, whose district includes the Camp Pendleton Marine base, argued that government often has to make decisions that balance environmental concerns against other needs. In this case, he said, "if it's a close call, the military has to be able to make its case."

Although the Navy and the Marines have complained frequently about the environmental restrictions on their operations at Coronado Amphibious Base and Camp Pendleton, the naval services were not represented at the hearing.

Committee Democrats hammered the administration witnesses for lack of evidence that the environmental laws have hurt combat readiness and for not using the national security waivers allowed by the existing laws. The Democrats were joined by an array of environmentalists and state and local government and water agency officials, who argued that the requested changes were overly broad, unnecessary and would be harmful to service personnel and their families and to citizens in communities near military bases.

Two congresswomen and water agency officials from Southern California cited the widespread problem from perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel, which has polluted scores of public water supplies in their area, as an example of the danger of unrestricted defense operations.

The opponents quoted statements by former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Whitman and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz that the environmental laws have not stopped the military from conducting necessary training.

While admitting they have been able to train under the current laws, the Pentagon officials said they were worried that environmentalists' lawsuits filed under those laws could force them to close essential training ranges.

Raymond DuBois, the deputy undersecretary of defense for environment and installations, cited legal action pending against an Army training area at Fort Richardson,

Alaska, and the lawsuit that temporarily stopped bombing of a tiny Pacific island inhabited only by birds. Repeated protests and legal action forced the Navy and Marines to give up the training areas on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

DuBois insisted that the requested changes were narrowly focused on operational training ranges, did not apply to routine military functions or to defense contractors and did not change the Pentagon's obligation to clean up closed installations or pollution that extends beyond military reservations.

The goal, he said, was to protect the military's ability to conduct training with real ammunition, which is essential to prepare troops for combat.

"There is no substitute for realistic, live-fire training," DuBois said. "My experience as a young soldier in Vietnam convinces me we owe that" to the men and women in uniform today.

Brig. Gen. Louis Weber, director of Army training, said the requested changes to the Clean Air Act and two hazardous waste laws were "common-sense clarifications to ensure that these laws are applied as intended and that we preserve military training vital to our national defense."

Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, chairman of one of the two subcommittees holding the hearing, called the Pentagon's requests "very reasonable."

"We can't train our troops in a video arcade," he said.

The full committee chairman, Joe Barton, R-Texas, said he was concerned that the environmental laws "are hampering our ability to train our troops," a view shared by nearly every Republican who spoke.

But Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., led the opposition by declaring: "Never has a set of legislative proposals had so much audacity and so little merit."

Dingell noted that the Pentagon has provided no evidence of harm to combat readiness and has used the existing national security exemptions in only one instance, for the top secret Groom Lake Air Force Base in Nevada.

Reps. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte, and Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, complained about the perchlorate pollution in their districts and argued that the requested changes would risk further environmental harm.

The strong opposition by the Democrats and other critics suggests that the proposed changes to the environmental laws are unlikely to pass in an election year.

Similar proposals passed the GOP-dominated House last year, but were stalled in the Senate by Democrats and moderate Republicans. Congress then approved three minor provisions, including one that overturned the ruling on the tiny Pacific island.

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National Journal's Congress Daily

April 21, 2004

Dingell Wary Of Pentagon's Assessment Of Enviro Laws
Democrats today disputed Pentagon assertions that environmental laws are hamstringing the armed forces' ability to maintain combat readiness. During a House Energy and Commerce Air Quality Subcommittee hearing, Energy and Commerce ranking member John Dingell, D-Mich., asserted the Pentagon has not offered a single instance of military readiness being compromised by the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act or the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act, better known as the Superfund law. He also chastised the Pentagon for saying it is "under siege" by environmental groups pursuing litigation. Pentagon and EPA officials said if the laws are not clarified, environmental groups and individuals could sue for activities at live-fire training facilities. Energy and Commerce Chairman Barton noted that numerous environmental groups have threatened lawsuits on Clean Air Act violations to force the Pentagon to settle out of court.

Raymond DuBois, the Pentagon's deputy undersecretary for installations and environment, acknowledged the laws have not directly affected military readiness, but said the department has "had to provide workarounds" in some situations to avoid legal action. Dingell said the Pentagon's proposed changes are unnecessary because the laws allow the president to exempt any military training installation from certain environmental requirements if military readiness is at risk. He noted that the president has invoked this exemption each year since 1997, but for only one base at a classified location in the western United States. Critics of the proposed changes are concerned they would allow the military to pre-empt state authority to protect drinking water and the environment. In addition, the Pentagon could emit unlimited amounts of pollution over a three-year period regardless of the impact on air quality.

-- by Amy Klamper

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Boston Globe

April 22, 2004

Indefensible Pollution
LAST YEAR the Defense Department succeeded in using Congress's wartime deference to the military to win waivers for its training operations from the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammals Protection Act. This year the Pentagon wants to go even further by having its training ranges exempted from laws governing air pollution, munitions disposal, and toxic wastes. Members of Congress, which held a hearing on the Pentagon's request yesterday, should say no.

When the Clean Air Act and other pillars of environmental protection were passed 30 years ago, they granted the military exemptions in specific cases on national security grounds. But that is not enough for the Pentagon under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney.

The goal now is to move much of the military outside the reach of these laws even though the Defense Department is responsible for 80 percent of all federal facilities on the Superfund's national priorities list of most dangerous sites. To improve the measure's chances, it is attached to the defense authorization bill. Passage of it could hinder any chance of getting the Pentagon to pay damages to the state of Massachusetts for harming the aquifer under the Massachusetts Military Reservation on Cape Cod.

The title of the bill, "Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative," hints at the way the Pentagon will wrap its legislation in a flag of maximizing the training of troops. In fact, the military has never been able to cite a single instance when one of these environmental laws got in the way of a training exercise.

More to the point, the bill would increase the risk that troops and their families drink contaminated water or breathe polluted air. That would not improve military readiness.

The Pentagon's proposal would let states and the federal Environmental Protection Agency regulate ranges if munitions or toxic releases moved off the base to threaten public health. But it is always more effective and cheaper to limit pollution sources, such as an undergound plume, before they become such a serious problem that they spread to nearby areas. Residents of areas surrounding the ranges, many themselves military families, should not have to wait until their own drinking water is poisoned before the military is forced to address its pollution problem.

The bill is opposed by several national organizations of public and private water supply agencies, groups representing state and local air pollution control officials, and many congressmen. At yesterday's hearing US Representative Edward Markey of Malden said "there is no reason to incur `collateral damage' to our public health while meeting our military needs." Congress should heed his words and not give the Pentagon a carte blanche to be an environmental scofflaw.

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Daily Environment Report

April 23, 2004

Defense Exemption From Waste Laws Should Be Site-Specific, Utilities Say
If the Defense Department is granted an exemption from environmental laws, the exemption should apply only to specific essential facilities, a representative of drinking water utilities told a House panel April 21.

Moreover, the department should be required to identify and monitor contamination at these facilities and report the results to the Environmental Protection Agency and the public, said Ronald Gastelum, president of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

"This is necessary in order to detect contamination before it has migrated beyond the boundaries, and into a source of water used for domestic, municipal, or agricultural purposes," Gastelum said at a hearing held by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on proposed Defense Department exemptions from some environmental laws.

At issue is mainly perchlorate, an unregulated contaminant used in rocket fuel, munitions, fireworks, and airbags. The chemical, which has migrated into groundwater in at least 30 states, is often associated with Defense Department activities.

Perchlorate interferes with human thyroid function, particularly among children, and may cause developmental and learning disabilities, according to EPA. It may also cause cancer in both children and adults.

Defense officials argued at the hearing that revisions to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act are necessary to ensure lawsuits do not stop military training activities ( 77 DEN A-11, 4/21/04 ).

Water utilities oppose the Pentagon's legislative proposal because they fear they may end up being liable for perchlorate contamination caused by military activities.

In his testimony, Gastelum also called for the development of a new national strategy to fund the assessment and remediation of perchlorate contamination. Gastelum represented the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the American Water Works Association, and the Association of California Water Agencies.

Utilities Say Defense Proposal Too Broad.
Under the Defense Department's current proposal, the department would be exempt from federal regulation of perchlorate on, and possibly near, what the agency calls "operational ranges," said Gastelum, who questioned the need for such an exemption.

The proposal also would amend RCRA and CERCLA to redefine the terms "solid waste" and "release," that would inhibit the ability of EPA, states, and water systems to prevent contamination and the loss of drinking water sources, he said.

The Defense Department's proposal also would require "human health and environmental effects" to occur beyond the boundaries of an operational range before action could be taken, according to Gastelum. Acting only after the damage has occurred would result in unnecessary public health risks, unacceptable losses of water sources, and high costs to clean up water supplies and find alternative sources, he said.

"Worse, even in the event of contamination beyond the boundaries of a range, the language would appear to deny any accountability to clean up sources and prevent further migration of contamination," he said.

Gastelum said the full extent of perchlorate contamination is not yet known and urged DOD to provide more information on contamination at its military training sites.

Such information would better equip water suppliers to evaluate the threat of perchlorate contamination in a "cooperative and strategic manner," he said.

Many states have also voiced their opposition to a DOD exemption from environmental laws. In an April 19 letter to members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the attorneys general from 39 states said proposed changes to RCRA and CERCLA are not needed ( 76 DEN A-4, 4/21/04 ).

By Pat Ware

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Newhouse.com
April 21, 2004
Military Seeks More Exemptions From Environmental Regulations
By Bill Walsh, Newhouse News Service
WASHINGTON -- The Department of Defense is once again asking Congress to exempt its live-fire training exercises from certain environmental restrictions, saying that troop preparedness is at stake.

Over the past two years, Congress has granted the military leeway from provisions of federal laws designed to protect marine mammals, endangered species and migratory birds. Now the Pentagon is seeking extra time to comply with the Clean Air Act, plus exemption of thousands of firing and bombing ranges around the country from hazardous waste laws.

Environmental groups say the military's proposals would deal a blow to public health. They also challenge the Pentagon's claim that training has suffered, saying there is no evidence that American soldiers are unprepared for battle because of environmental restrictions.

The package of legislation will be presented Wednesday before a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
"We are looking for modest changes," said Glenn Flood, a spokesman for the Department of Defense. "We need some language (in the law) saying that just because you fire a piece of ammunition doesn't mean you are creating hazardous waste."

Concern over environmental fallout from military exercises has come to the fore as once-remote military installations have been enveloped by urban sprawl. The military is anxious to avoid the kind of public outcry that forced the closure of the Vieques testing range in Puerto Rico last year.

The requests come at a time when the military is ramping up plans for base closings in 2005. All members of Congress want to avoid having bases shut down in their districts, and that possibility will likely be on their minds as they consider the Pentagon's environmental plans.

The proposal also comes during an election year when many members of Congress will be reluctant to oppose anything requested by the military, especially as hostilities continue in Iraq.

The Department of Defense wants the Clean Air Act modified to give itself three years to remediate harmful emissions associated with the deployment of new weapons systems and large-scale movement of troops from one base to another.

The agency is also seeking to change the definition of "solid waste" in the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act, so that explosives, munitions and other toxic material, including chemical weapons, would not be included.

In the Superfund law, which requires polluters to clean up toxic releases, the military is asking that its explosives and munitions be exempted from the definition of "releases."

Environmentalists say that none of the laws has hampered military exercises, so there is no need to change them. The alterations, they say, would severely hamstring states and communities in addressing pollution until it migrates off the base.

Opponents also say the president already has the authority to override environmental restrictions on a case-by-cases basis.

"These proposals are top-down driven and have to do more with ideology than any needs of the bases," said Kevin Curtis, vice president of the National Environmental Trust. "This is the third time (the military) has proposed these exemptions. These are the ones that directly affect public health."

Flood, the Pentagon spokesman, couldn't cite instances where training has been sacrificed, but said the military is worried that it could happen. He also said seeking a special exemption from the president isn't practical for day-to-day training.

"The point isn't that it hasn't happened before," he said. "The point is that it could happen tomorrow. The military wants to be prepared in case the need arises."

Prospects for the proposals are uncertain, even in the Republican-controlled House that has generally been amenable to requests from the military. The hearing Wednesday is not intended to move the legislation, but rather to give the Department of Defense a chance to publicly make its case.

"They asked us to take a look," said a committee official. "We'll listen to what they have to say and go from there."

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Denver Post

April 23, 2004
Allard Calls Salazar Wrong On Cleanups
U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard released a letter Thursday calling Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar "alarmist and careless" for his position on cleaning up military bombing ranges and training facilities across the country.

On Monday, Democratic Senate candidate Salazar joined 38 states' attorneys general in signing a letter that urged Congress to reject the military's request to exempt 24 million acres from three environmental laws. In Colorado, those exemptions would hurt the state's oversight of cleanups of weapons at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Lowry Bombing Range and Pueblo Chemical Depot, Salazar said.

Allard, who has endorsed former U.S. Rep. Bob Schaffer's bid for the Republican nomination for the Senate, contended that Salazar's position would hurt military readiness for combat. Salazar said it was "very disturbing, and just plain wrong" to cast doubt on his patriotism and his support for troops overseas.

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Environment & Energy Daily

April 23, 2004

House panel passes bill to exclude non-native birds from migratory bird law
Natalie M. Henry
A House Resources subcommittee easily approved a bill yesterday that would exclude non-native birds from the protections provided by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Prior to marking up the bill, Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee Chairman Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.) said during the first 80 years of the act, the Fish and Wildlife Service and state resource agencies all operated with the understanding that MBTA applied only to native birds. As such, non-native, invasive birds were managed and sometimes eradicated if they interfered with other native species or native ecosystem functions.

In 2001, the D.C. Circuit Court changed all that, ruling that the non-native mute swan was protected under MBTA because it was related to the same family of birds protected under the United States' migratory bird treaty with Canada. Gilchrest said his bill, H.R. 4114 <http://www.eenews.net/features/bills/108/House/200404171514.pdf>, is intended to clarify Congress' intent -- and that of Mexico and Canada -- that non-native birds are not protected under MBTA (E&E Daily, April 21).

Without such clarification, the court ruling could result in extending the act's protection to at least 86 other species of birds, said Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.). Gilchrest said even pigeons, which he called the most destructive birds of all, could end up protected under the act.

The issue of the mute swan hits home for Gilchrest, whose eastern Maryland district is flocked with the birds. Mute swans are notorious for eating their way through acres of native bay grasses and other vegetation, thus destroying habitat for native birds, fish and other organisms. The swans have also even been known to chow down on small native critters. FWS, which supports H.R. 4114, approved a state plan to eradicate some of the birds, which was halted by a federal judge last fall after animals rights groups filed suit.

Subcommittee ranking member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) voted in favor of the bill but said he has some reservations he would like to have addressed before H.R. 4114 is considered by the full committee. For one, he said several animal rights groups oppose the bill. In addition, the bill basically overturns a court ruling, smudging the lines between legislative and judicial powers.

Furthermore, the act already has a provision allowing FWS to issue take permits to kill migratory birds in certain instances, making Pallone wonder why that option has not been discussed more thoroughly before ushering through a bill to amend the law.

An unlikely alliance of 35 groups signed a letter to Gilchrest supporting the bill, including the American Bird Conservancy, National Audubon Society, Environmental Defense, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, Izaak Walton League of America, Ducks Unlimited, The Wildlife Society, Wildlife Management Institute, Ruffed Grouse Society, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance, Safari Club International and others.

Marine turtles and wildlife refuges
The subcommittee also handily passed another Gilchrest bill authorizing up to $5 million annually for the Interior Department to create a conservation fund for marine turtles.

H.R. 3378 <http://www.eenews.net/features/bills/108/House/190304152433.pdf>, the Marine Turtle Conservation Act, is modeled after highly successful conservation funds established for African elephants, Asian elephants, rhinoceroses, tigers, great apes and neotropical migratory birds. The bill follows a 1994 report from the World Conservation Union suggesting that an existing fund for turtles be augmented to promote conservation of the amphibians and their nesting habitat.

The subcommittee also approved a bill to expand the Kilauea National Wildlife Refuge on Hawaii's island of Kauai. Kilauea currently encompasses 203 acres. H.R. 2619 <http://www.eenews.net/features/bills/108/House/200404171702.pdf> would allow the Interior Department to acquire up to 219 acres from willing sellers to expand the refuge, which is home to several endangered birds, plants and marine mammals.

Finally, the subcommittee passed a bill honoring Siegfried and Roy's achievements furthering conservation of endangered species and wishing Roy a speedy recovery after being mauled by one of his own beasts.


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Environment News Service

April 23, 2004

Judge Puts Brakes on Navy Jet Landing Field
RALEIGH, North Carolina, (ENS) - A federal judge has issued an injunction that temporarily blocks the U.S. Navy's plan to build a military jet landing field a few miles from a North Carolina national wildlife refuge.

The Navy intends to build a new F/A 18 and E/F Super Hornet jet training field within five miles of the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge in eastern North Carolina. Pilots would use the field to practice landing on aircraft carriers.

Officials say the decision is justified by national security concerns, but critics contend the government's environmental impact studies for the landing field downplayed the substantial risk of collisions between jets and the large flocks of tundra swans, snow geese and other birds that winter in the area, and minimized adverse impacts to the wildlife refuge.

Experts - including the Air Force's leading authority on bird/aircraft collisions - have described the plan as an ill considered one with a high likelihood of bird and aircraft collisions producing catastrophic results.

The refuge is within the heart of the Atlantic migratory bird flyway and winter home to 100,000 large waterfowl, including tundra swans and snow geese from Arctic Canada and Alaska.

This week's decision by U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle is a victory for a coalition of conservationists and local officials who filed suit in January to block the Navy's plan.

In comments accompanying his decision, Judge Boyle said the Navy's decision to locate the training field at the proposed site "may have been a clear error of judgment."

The court also noted out that the Navy's planned land acquisitions will immediately "result in irreparable harm," including "harm to the numerous tundra swans and snow geese that spend the winter months at the lakes and refuges close to the proposed [site]."

"An injunction is a first, very important step in carrying forward our case," said Michelle Nowlin, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is representing the National Audubon Society, Defenders of Wildlife and the North Carolina Wildlife Federation in the suit.

"We know the Navy's work fails to meet federal requirements and believe the court will ultimately send them back to the drawing board," Nowlin said. "At least now the citizens of the area have some breathing room while we finish proving our claims."

The $186.5 million facility would be located on 30,000 acres the Navy plans to acquire in Washington and Beaufort counties - it has already purchased some of the land. The counties have filed their own lawsuit against the Navy.

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Virginian Pilot

April 23, 2004

N.C. Task Force Pushing Alternate Site For Navy Landing Field

By Estes Thompson, Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. - Members of a governor's task force studying the Navy proposal to build a jet practice landing field in eastern North Carolina continued Thursday to push an alternate site.

Task force member John Pechmann of Fayetteville, a lawyer who is chairman of the state Wildlife Resources Commission, said he didn't understand why the Navy didn't reconsider a site in Carteret County that's mostly a huge farm owned by an Italian company.

Capt. Stu Bailey, project manager for the North Carolina field, said the Carteret County site sits south of Piney Island range that military aviators use for bombing and aerial combat practice. Other restricted air space nearly surrounds the site as well, he said.

Bailey had just answered questions about the landing field in California, located on San Clemente Island, east of San Diego, which also has lots of activity. The landing field shares the area with a naval bombardment range that warships use for target practice.

Navy officials schedule conferences so they know which unit is using the San Clemente field when, Bailey said. That would work in North Carolina as well, Pechmann said. "I think if scheduling conferences can work on the West coast, scheduling conferences can work on the East coast," he said.

But Bailey said that at San Clemente, the military can conduct naval gunfire on one end of the island while landing field operations proceed at the other end.

The Navy wants to spend $186 million to buy more than 30,000 acres of land in Washington and Beaufort counties and build an outlying landing field, or OLF, to serve F/A-18 Super Hornet jet fighters that it plans to base at military airfields in Virginia and North Carolina.

A federal judge this week stopped the Navy from performing more work on the project while a lawsuit by the counties and environmental groups is heard. The Navy is reviewing the ruling, said a spokesman who couldn't say if the Navy will appeal.

Chris Canfield, executive director of Audubon North Carolina, said he hoped Gov. Mike Easley will empower the task force to take an active role in finding an alternate site for the landing field. His group is one of the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit that contends the Navy didn't consider environmental damage when it selected the remote site near Plymouth.

Easley has said he wants the Navy to base jets in North Carolina, but has concerns with the Washington County site. The issue has taken on political tones, with Democratic Senate candidate Erskine Bowles saying Wednesday that he opposes the Washington County site.

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Daily Environment Report

April 23, 2004

Senators Open to New Federal Policy Idea But Question Funding, Governance Structure
Recommendations by a presidentially appointed commission to develop a new federal policy for coordinating and managing ocean-related activities was lauded April 22 by members of two Senate committees, but the senators raised funding questions.

The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy released its preliminary findings April 20 indicating that the oceans are in trouble because of overfishing, pollution, and poor management ( 76 DEN A-1, 4/21/04 ).

The 16-member panel recommended a comprehensive federal policy whose direction would be set by a White House oceans council consisting of the heads of federal agencies that share responsibility for ocean programs, a strengthening of the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, and voluntary regional councils to consider issues at the local level.

Cost of Recommendations.
The plan is expected to cost $1.2 billion the first year, $2.4 billion the second year, and $3.2 billion in the third year.

Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said funds for fiscal year 2005 are already committed, but he left open the possibility that money could be found.

"We already have a budget for 2005, and there's no money there for this," he said. "If you want, we've got to find some and in an amount that's doable."

Members of the commission, led by former Energy Secretary James Watkins, presented their findings to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and then to the Senate Appropriations Committee April 22.

"The time to act is now, and everyone who plays a role in oceans and coastal policy must be a part of it," Watkins told the Senate Commerce Committee.

The commission recommended that efforts to craft and implement policy recommendations should be paid for by a trust fund financed with revenues from offshore oil and gas development activities, which amount to about $5 billion annually. Roughly $1 billion of that is already committed for the land and water conservation fund, for the national historic preservation, and for coastal states that have offshore oil and gas development, Thomas Kitsos, executive director of the commission, said.

"We want to make a run at the remainder of that to help states on crafting a national ocean policy," Watkins said.

Creating Integrated Ocean Observing System.
One important recommendation in the draft report, Watkins said, is the establishment of an integrated ocean observing system.

"Recognizing the enormous national benefits that have accrued from the weather observing network, it is time to invest in a similar observational and forecasting capability for the oceans," the report said. "This system would gather information on physical, geological, chemical, and biological parameters for the oceans and coasts, conditions that affect--and are affected by--humans and their activities."

Watkins estimated the observing system would cost about $290 million in the first year and about $652 million over the long haul. However, he refused to prioritize the commission's recommendation, saying that should be done by the National Ocean Council once it is established.

Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, expressed skepticism that an ocean council would be effective. Rather, he and others said the commission should have recommended the establishment of a full department that might actually have the ear of the president.

He told Watkins that he agrees with just about everything in the report. "You're passionate in your answers but tentative and almost a sissy in your recommendations," he said, referring to his belief that a new department should be created.

Time Not Right for New Department.
Watkins said he did not think it would be a good idea to create a new department, especially since a new department--Homeland Security--was just established. Moreover, he said, creating a new department would use up too much energy that could be better expended beefing up NOAA and working on implementing "the other 195 recommendations."

This approach would allow NOAA to realize where the redundancies in ocean policy are being duplicated in other agencies, bring those responsibilities together under one agency, and perhaps after a few years, Congress and the White House will realize that NOAA is functioning as a department and it could be formally elevated to one "without the guillotine action like what happened with DHS," he said.  "I'm not against an independent NOAA. I'm against moving so fast that we stumble along this way," Watkins said.

Hollings said he thought a plan as bold as the one the commission was recommending needed more than a council and an adviser to the president to move it forward.

Watkins agreed that the effort would not happen without a strong commitment from the White House.

Ocean Issues Related to Climate Change.
The draft report recommended that a new national ocean policy also involve increases in research and research funding. Expanded research would provide more scientific understanding on such issues as climate change and non-point source pollution, Watkins told the Commerce Committee.

"The climate change issue alone is powerful enough to drive the recommendations all by itself," Watkins said, adding that climate change relates to "every single topic in the report."

A warming climate can cause the thermal expansion of the oceans resulting in flooding of coastal areas and melting ice caps, which can then affect ocean currents, Watkins said.

An ocean observing system would be able to monitor changes in ocean temperature and other properties and make it easier to predict impending effects from climate change that may affect coastal areas as well as marine ecosystems.

"If the United States takes a leadership role in this, it will be doing something great for mankind," Watkins said, adding that an observation system would include components such as real time monitoring and temperature gauges.

Several members of both committees said more is known about the surface of the moon and Mars than about the ocean floor.

Some suggested revising priorities so that some of the money spent on space exploration be transferred to pay for more ocean research.

By Susan Bruninga

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American Forces Press Service

April 21, 2004

DoD Leader Notes Department's Environmental Record

WASHINGTON- The Department of Defense is a good steward of America's environmental heritage, a top DoD official said.

April 22 is Earth Day, and the department has had a stellar record on the environment, said Ray DuBois, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment.

"There are awards that have been made to posts, camps and stations all over the country," Dubois said recently. DoD manages the health of about 300 endangered species that on the "very bio-diverse 30 million acres which we manage in the United States."

The Air Force and Army have been recognized for their work, for example, in saving the red-cockaded woodpecker in the Southeast. The Navy and Marine Corps

have worked to ensure the survival of the fairy shrimp in the West Coast, DuBois said.

The department dedicates nearly $4 billion a year on environmental programs.

"Clearly this obligation is taken seriously by this department," he said.

All of the services will celebrate Earth Day. For example, the Navy Department will mark Earth Day under the theme of "Celebrating Successful Partnerships." This recognizes the Navy's work with many partners around the world. "Earth Day presents an excellent opportunity to highlight the department's continued contributions to ensuring a sustainable environmental future," said Navy Secretary Gordon R. England. "Earth Day 2004 is an occasion for the Navy and Marine Corps to work with partnering organizations to re-emphasize our commitment to the environment in which we work and live, both in the U.S. and overseas."

The service gave a few highlights of its environmental accomplishments in 2003, including:

A joint venture between Norfolk Naval Shipyard and Atlantic Wood Industries to remove 38,000 tons of calcium hydroxide, 3,900 tons of wood debris, 1,400 tons of abrasive blast media and 1,700 tons of contaminated soil from two adjacent National Priority List sites in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Partnerships between the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Elizabeth River Project to construct a 1.33-acre wetland and plant a 1.6-acre riparian buffer to provide upland a habitat that consists of native grasses, bushes and trees that provide additional storm and water filtration control.

The implementation of a Navywide "At Sea" Policy that requires all fleet exercises to be reviewed for environmental compliance and for potential effect on marine mammals and other marine life.

The Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, Calif., has one of the largest alternative fuel vehicle fleets in the nation and is broadly recognized as a

leader in the field.

The Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake, Calif., is operating a 270-megawatt geothermal power plant that provides nearly pollution-free power for 180,000 homes. Since its inception, the Navy has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 4.5 metric tons at China Lake.

All the gas-powered vehicles in the executive motor pool at Naval Station Anacostia here were replaced with alternatively fueled vehicles.

The Navy also has been recognized for its leadership in energy conservation and its environmental stewardship. Recently, President Bush cited the Naval

Facilities Engineering Command with a Presidential Award for Leadership in Federal Energy Management in the category of "Outstanding Performance." The

award was one of five Presidential Awards presented in 2003.

Each year, the Navy commands sponsor booth displays, tree plantings, volunteer cleanup projects, environmental fairs, and other Earth Day-related events.