OPENING STATEMENT BY SENATOR INHOFE

FOR

MILITARY ENCROACHMENT HEARING ON 2 APRIL 2003

 

 

In this time of war, our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers rely on their training to survive and effectively achieve United States policy objectives. 

 

PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE

 

For those who embrace the “Precautionary Principle,” now is the time to take precautions—in the defense of our country and in the interest of the lives of our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers.  Does anyone doubt that they need and deserve the best training? 

 

PROBLEM ACKNOWLEDGED

 

All sides have acknowledged a legitimate problem here.  We have established that fact, though it bears repeating, and are beyond it now.  The question before us today is what legislation will solve the problem. 

 

Senator Pryor has suggested a pilot program.  Senator Akaka has suggested that Congress enact part of the request from the Department of Defense.  House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo states that the proposals do not go far enough to aid all of the citizenry who feel the pinch of unflexible and ineffective environmental regulations.

 

Where is the balance?  We will examine that balance today.

 

CAREFUL EXAMINATION HAS BEEN DONE

 

It is important to point out that this issue has been carefully examined.  As you can see in the chart to my right, there have been at least twelve hearings addressing the problems of encroachment. 

 

There have been at least seven thorough examinations and reports on the issue of encroachment.  Last year we legislated yet more study on the topic.

 

CODIFYING PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION’S ACTIONS

 

The previous Administration recognized these problems as well and took action to solve them.  This next chart to my right shows eight actions taken by Democrats to solve the very encroachment problems we have established.  The DoD merely seeks to continue these initiatives.

 

Two types of obstacles stare us in the face. 

 

CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER

 

The first obstacle is the litigious initiatives by extremist groups such as NRDC & the Center for Biological Diversity.  These lawsuits pose a clear and present danger to the training and readiness of our military, because they threaten to prevent even the sensible initiatives of the Democrats indicated on the previous chart.

 

WORKAROUNDS

 

The second obstacle is the creeping problem of “Workarounds.”  Workarounds are extraordinary methods and time and costs utilized to approximate achievement of a task in the face of obstacles.  We are at a stage where the Department of Defense is working around the workarounds.  Dr. Pirie of the Clinton Administration’s Department of Defense testified that these workarounds now amount to “Death by a Thousand Cuts.”

 

CONCLUSION

 

In the final analysis, we must be mindful of the purpose for which military reservations were reserved and accommodate their purpose.  This can be done with a mind to conservation as the last Administration proved.  Let us implement and codify their suggestions to afford the flexibility our military needs while maintaining our high environmental standards. The military is trying to achieve a balance between effective training and readiness activities and environmental protection.  The Clinton Administration recognized this, and implemented policies that integrated training and the environment.  But environmental groups have rejected that balance, and instead have chosen to pursue an extremist agenda that could shut down many of our most critical ranges. 

 

In large part we are here today because of this extremist agenda.  Rather than seeking compromise, environmental groups file lawsuits, many of which could seriously undermine training and readiness.  These groups have acted irresponsibly by spreading distortions and inaccuracies about what the military is asking for.   But despite their unfortunate rhetoric, this proposal we are considering today is balanced, bipartisan, rooted in common sense, and good for the environment.

 

 

Hearings addressing encroachment in the past two years:

 

1.     Senate Armed Services Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee,          20 March 2001

2.     House Government Reform Committee,                                                                      09 May 2001

3.     House Armed Services Military Readiness Subcommittee,                                        22 May 2001

4.     Senate Armed Services Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee,      28 February 2002

5.     House Armed Services Military Readiness Subcommittee,                                     08 March 2002

6.     House Government Reform Committee,                                                                      16 May 2002

7.     Senate Environment and Public Works Committee,                                                    09 June 2002

8.     House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife, and Oceans   13 June 2002

9.     Senate Armed Services Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee,          06 March 2003

10.  House Armed Services Military Readiness Subcommittee,                                     13 March 2003

11.  Senate Armed Services Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee,           01 April 2003

12.  Senate Environment and Public Works Committee,                                                   02 April 2003

 

 

PREVIOUS ENCROACHMENT ACTIONS

 

1.                         Democrat Congress passes Section 107 of the Federal Facilities Compliance Act                 1992

      requiring identification of when munitions become hazardous waste

2.                         Memorandum of Understanding on Implementation of the Endangered Species Act                1994

3.                         EPA Administrator Carol Browner issues Draft Military Munitions Rule                               1995
defining when munitions become hazardous waste

4.                         President Clinton issues Presidential Determination #95-45                                                   1995
exempting the Air Force’s Groom Lake location (Area 51)
from solid waste and hazardous waste laws

5.                         EPA Administrator Carol Browner finalizes Military Munitions Rule                                    1997
defining when munitions become hazardous waste

6.                         Secretary of Commerce Norman Y. Mineta and Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt               2000
propose amending the Marine Mammal Protection Act’s definition of harassment
to comport with the recommendations in the reports of the National Research Council

7.                         Fish and Wildlife Service approves use of Integrated Natural Resource Management            2000
Plans in lieu of designation of critical habitat for the Coastal California Gnatcatcher

      in final rule

8.                         Fish and Wildlife Service envisions use of Integrated Natural Resource Management            2000
Plans in lieu of designation of critical habitat for the Arroyo Toad in proposed rule