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AcousticEcology.org Special Report

Exempting the Military from Environmental Regulations

This page includes:

  • Background
  • The Pentagon plans and congressional action for 2003 session
    • Congressional Committee Action in 2003: what happened [GO THERE]
    • 2003 Blueprint, leaked to PEER [GO THERE]
    • Specific Changes Recommended by Bush administration [GO THERE]
  • General Information
    • GAO Report Finds Little Evidence of need for new initiatives [GO THERE]
    • Letter from 27 Environmental Organizations, January 2003 [GO THERE]
    • 2003 News Reports on this issue [GO THERE]
    • Action Info: talking points and key members of Congress [GO THERE]
  • See also the supplement to this Special Report: 2002 Bills and Amendments [GO THERE]

Background

At the end of the 2003 Congressional season, the Pentagon won its first major victory in a long-term drive to exempt itself from environmental laws. Congress approved ammendments to the Defense Authorization Bill that grant the military more flexibility when dealing with endangered species and marine mammals. See 2003/4 Congressional Action for more details. This marks a turning point in an ongoing battle with environmentalists and their congressional allies.

In the spring of 2002, the Pentagon's frustration with over-regulation by environmental laws became concrete on two fronts. Working with Congressional allies, the Department of Defense moved to add amendments to the House Defense Authorization Bill, exempting military activities from several specific environmental laws. While the Senate warded off all such exemption language, and the House turned back the most threatening (changing the definition of "harassment" in the Marine Mammal Protection Act), a wide-ranging exemption to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act did make it through the House and the House-Senate Conference Committee. The exemption allowed "incidental takings" of endangered birds and damage to critical habitat during bombing and other training on military lands.

Meanwhile, in April 2002 , the draft of a comprehensive bill, the Sustainable Defense Readiness And Environmental Protection Act (SDREPA) was leaked by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The proposed bill, originally planned for introduction in 2003, would exempt the military from protections contained in the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Noise Control Act, Migratory Bird Treat Act and the Endangered Species Act.

In January 2003, PEER released a new leaked document, the blueprint for this year's Pentagon strategy for dealing with Congress and the public. It appears that the surprising resistance to last year's push for exemptions has led the Pentagon to back off from the idea of introducing the wide-ranging SDREPA; rather, the plan is to target a few specific laws this year, with hopes of expanding their exemptions in years to come. As of May 2003, the Pentagon had introduced identical language for weakening the Marine Mammal Protection Act and allowing the Secretary of Defense to issue blanket exemptions, into three separate pieces of legislation, obviously hoping that at least one would make it through unscathed (the three are: MMPA, Defense Authorization Act, and the new "Defense Transformation for the 21st Century Act"). See update on 2003 Congressional action: [GO THERE]

For now, the Pentagon is not targeting the Noise Control Act, but is adding the Superfund Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to its list of targets (both of the latter govern toxic waste generated by military facilities).

Still, the draft SDREPA bill offers a good look at the mind set behind the Pentagon's complaints: "Federal departments and agencies shall not place the conservation of public lands, or the preservation or recovery of endangered, threatened, or other protected species found on military lands, above the need to ensure that soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines receive the greatest possible preparation for, and protection from, the hazards and rigor of combat through realistic training on military lands and in military airspace."

As related to noise issues, the SDREPA would explicitly exempt military noise from regulation, and leave the Department of Defense as the sole judge of acceptable noise levels: "For purposes Section 4 of the Noise Control Act, 42 U.S.C. § 4903, "environmental noise" shall not include noise caused by military readiness activities involving military weapons or equipment designed for combat use. The Department shall minimize environmental noise caused by military readiness activities involving military weapons or equipment designed for combat use to the extent practical and necessary without diminishment of military training or other capabilities, as determined by the Department." (As noted above, this Noise Act is no longer targeted; however, the MMPA and Migratory Bird exemptions have direct acoustic ecology implications.)

Examples the military cites: A few extreme examples of military lands being off-limits for training have fired the recent moves. Most involve protection of endangered species and their habitats. At the Barry Goldwater Range in Arizona, the Air Force claims to have redirected or canceled 30 percent of their live drop missions each year to avoid impacts on the Sonoran pronghorn antelope. At Camp Pendleton in southern California, the Marines claim that they can conduct mock amphibious landings on just 1500 meters (about a mile) of a 17 mile shoreline due to endangered species protection measures; intense development around the base has led to the military zone becoming a defacto wildlife refuge. A key change the Pentagon seeks in the ESA is to avoid critical habitat designations on military lands, while they create natural resource management plans under less stringent regulations. However, the Endangered Species Act, as currently written, already provides the military with a vehicle for receiving exemptions. Section 7J of the ESA allows the military to apply for a waiver; it has never utilized this option, but now asks for blanket exemption from the law.

While few will argue that military readiness should be neglected, the suggestion that the US Government should be exempted from its own laws rubs many the wrong way. There is little evidence that the US Military is under-prepared, and strong biological and moral imperatives support the existing environmental laws. There is no obvious reason that military activities need to be given priority over the health of the environment.

Indeed, in July 2002, the GAO released a report that found no evidence of military preparedness being negatively affected by environmental regulations. [READ AP STORY]


Congressional Action in 2002

See Supplement to this Special Report, focusing on 2002 activities [GO THERE]


Pentagon Plans for 2003

Pentagon Master Plan for 2003 and Beyond

In January 2003, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility received a copy of an internal Pentagon planning paper that outlines the Bush administration strategy and targets for the coming congressional session.

See update on 2003 Congressional action: [GO THERE]

In the last session of Congress, the Pentagon failed to obtain the many of the same statutory exemptions, despite a post-September 11th atmosphere in which Congress granted almost all other military requests.  The memo attributes the defeat of what it euphemistically calls “the sustainable range effort” to being put on the “defensive” by environmental groups and the need “for more sustained ‘Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield.’”

Among the goals for the year are:

  • Regulatory changes that would limit application of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, and Migratory Bird Treaty Act to Department of Defense operations
  • Executive orders from President Bush that would establish DoD as the first among equals in any disagreement with other agencies (or, in the words of the memo, “improves dispute resolution related to agency actions affecting national security”); and to require all agencies to assess the impact of any of their actions on national defense
  • A new DoD policy for making extensive use of the current emergency exemption in the Endangered Species Act by declaring that certain protections for wildlife threaten national security. 

“If the Pentagon devoted the same brainpower towards complying with our anti-pollution laws as it does evading and undermining those laws, everyone would be a lot better off,” commented PEER General Counsel Dan Meyer, a former naval gunnery officer who served during the Persian Gulf War.  “Last year, the Pentagon showed that it could bully EPA and Interior into acceptance of even broader changes, so it is quite likely that it can again get these agencies to agree to subvert the very laws they are sworn to uphold.” 

According to the memo, the Pentagon expects to win congressional approval during 2003 of exemptions to the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA).  Last year, the Pentagon did win a temporary MBTA exemption leading to a new permit system for shelling of migratory bird nesting sites.  Despite this compromise, the DoD will again seek a complete MBTA exemption.

Looking even further ahead, the memo outlines plans for four other statutory rewrites, including the military’s own basic conservation charter (the Sikes Act).  The memo cautions that these proposals should be delayed until next session because they “would engender significant opposition, as all four would entail significant changes to major environmental statutes.”

See PEER Press Release, 1/13/03 [READ PRESS RELEASE] [READ 2ND PEER PRESS RELEASE]

Download a copy of the Pentagon report: Sustainable Ranges 2003 Decision Briefing to the Deputy Secretary of Defense [DOWNLOAD REPORT(pdf)]

Marine Mammal Protection Act

The Marine Mammal Protection Act is up for re-authorization, and the new version has some slightly changed language in several areas. Most important to sound issues in the oceans, the Navy has proposed a new, weaker definition of "harassment" of marine mammals, which would a legal standard that would be easier for the Pentagon (or industry) to meet. Currently, any military action that constitutes an "annoyance" to marine mammals and has the "potential to disturb" the animals is prohibited. The Pentagon wants the definition of harassment changed to anything that would be "likely to disturb" on the animals. Further, the new version of the MMPA would provide for automatic waivers upon request. Similar language is being added as amendments to the Defense Authorization Bills.

The new language also eliminates the requirement that takes are limited to "small numbers" of animals in specific geographic regions, opening the door to activities that could take hundreds of thousands of marine mammals over thousands of miles of oceans, as is possible with deployment of Long Range Low Frequency Active Sonar (LFAS).

Blanket Exemptions for Military Needs

Both the MMPA and the Defense Authorization Bill (and its cohort/subset, variously named the Readiness and Range Preservation Initiative and the Readiness and Range Act) contain amendments that allow the Secretary of Defense to issue blanket exemptions to the MMPA; this is targeted especially to allow continued deployment of the LFAS system.

The language of the amendments follows:

"The Secretary of Defense, after conferring with the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Interior, or both, as appropriate, may exempt any action or category of actions undertaken by the Department of Defense or its components from compliance with any requirement of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq., if he determines that it is necessary for national defense. Exemptions granted under this section shall be for a period of not more than two years. Additional exemptions for periods not to exceed two years each may be granted for the same action or category of actions upon the Secretary of Defense, after conferring with the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Interior, or both as appropriate, making a new determination."

New Legislation to Reorganize the Military Also Includes Exemptions

In April 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld proposed yet another new piece of legislation, entitled the "Defense Transformation for the 21st Century Act," to significantly reorganize the US military. Title III of the proposal includes the SAME environmental law exemptions as are present in the National Defense Authorization Act. Again, Rumsfeld is counting on a wave of patriotic feelings to push his proposal through Congress.

Addition of "Military Impact Statements"

The Pentagon proposes that new laws and actions, such as establishing a park or instituting new conservation statues, must first prepare "Military Impact Statements," patterned after the current Environmental Impact Statements.

NEPA: Legal Challenges and Attempts to Re-write Seminal Environmental Law

Separate from the Pentagon initiatives, the Bush administration is offering a bold new interpretation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the landmark Nixon-era regulations that require the development of Environmental Impact Statements. In stark contrast to both administrative and judicial interpretation up to now, which has considered EIS's to be necessary for projects on all the world's oceans, the Bush Justice Department has argued in court that NEPA only applies within the 3-mile territorial limit.

Since this argument surfaced in court earlier in the summer of 2002 (in a case involving a new round of tests of the Navy's new-generation sonar systems, this time in "littoral", or in-shore waters), White House meetings between the Justice Department, Navy, and other federal agencies, a new consensus is forming within the administration about this reinterpretation. Source: AP, 8/9/02
First Court Response: NEPA Does Apply Beyond 3-Mile Territorial Limit Source: Los Angeles Times, 9/20/02 [READ ARTICLE]

The Bush administration is also in the midst of a bureaucratic re-evaluation of the ways that NEPA is administered; the stated goal is to "streamline" processes that can routinely take years or decades to get management plans approved. A key proposal under consideration is to drastically reduce the role of "administrative appeals", often used by environmental organizations to challenge final Environmental Impact Statements, in favor of a "pre-decision review process" aimed at speeding the issuance of finalized management plans. Source: Many media reports, 2002 and 2003. E Magazine, 4/03 [READ ARTICLE]

In the fall of 2003, the administration released a series of recommendations to "modernize" NEPA. Among the goals is the creation of "cagtegorical" exclusions to NEPA; among the activities that may no longer require Environmental Impact Statements are management plans for Off-Road Vehicles and fire-prevention logging projects. Source: Scripps-Howard News Service/WTEV 9/25/03 [READ ARTICLE]

Use of Existing Provisions for National Security Exemptions to Enviro Laws

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has directed the secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to forward to him specific requests for exemptions from environmental laws, in preparation for the issuance of Presidential national security exemptions. While the Noise Control Act has been left out of current congressional initiatives, it is included in Wolfowitz's list of regulations that may be exempted. Wolfowitz suggested that the Pentagon should consider reversing its "past restraint" against having the president invoke national security exemption provisions available in some environmental laws. He said those exemptions have never been used. In a March 7 memo to the chiefs of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, Wolfowitz said, "It is time for us to give greater consideration to requesting such exemptions" in cases where the laws threaten military training and readiness. The lack of such action in the past is used by opponents of broad exemptions as a refutation of the Pentagon's stated need for relief. Source: Environmental News Network/AP, 3/21/03 [READ ARTICLE] [DOWNLOAD MEMO(pdf)] (leaked by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 3/20/03)


Congressional Action 2003/4

Clean Air Act and Toxic Waste Next on Military Table - Having succeeded at weakening marine mammal protection and endangered species protections during the 2003 legislative sessions, the Petagon is setting its sites on two more elements of environmental protection. Source: Tidepool.org, 1/20/04 [READ ARTICLE]

11/03: US Congress Approves Weakened Protections for Marine Mammals - Responding to Pentagon concerns about limitations imposed on testing new sonar systems, the Defense Authorization Bill that came out of Conference Committee negotiations has retained the House provisions that weaken some key language in the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The new language will set a higher bar for researchers or the courts to invoke protections from "harassment," and will allow permits to cover impacts over vast areas and numbers of animals, replacing current permitting, which allows only small territorial and population impacts. In addition, it gives the Pentagon a blanket exemption to MMPA regulations, which can be invoked to cover any military activity deemed necessary; many observers suspect this provision could be invoked to expand deployment of the LFA sonar, which last month was limited to a portion of the western Pacific. The Bill also exempts the military from some provisions of the Endangered Species Act. Senator Olympia Snow (R-ME) expressed concern about the MMPA being revised through this channel, and stated that she hopes to "revisit" the new language when the subcommittee she chairs, which has proper jurisdiction over marine mammal rules, takes up re-authorization of the MMPA next year. Source: Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 11/8/03 [READ ARTICLE] Nature Science Update, 11/12/03 [READ ARTICLE]
Related: Enviros, Congressional Allies Aim to Roll Back Changes - Key members of Congress, including Maine's two GOP Senators, are questioning the amendments approved as part of the Defense Authorization bill. Environmental advocates, too, promise to challenge the changes during next year's reauthorization of the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Source: Washington Post/Boston Globe, 11/18/03 [READ ARTICLE]
UPDATE: MMPA not likely to be on 2004 agenda - As of spring 2004, it appears unlikely that Congress will address reauthorization of the MMPA during this year's session. Stay tuned, as MMPA reauthorization will remain on the Congressional agenda after the elections. Lack of reauthorization does NOT mean the MMPA disappears; it's standard procedure to keep the old version until reauthorization makes it through the Capital Hill maze. The Reauthorization is working its way through the House process as H.R. 2693, including codifications of much of the weakened language that passed last year, but the Senate appears unlikely to take the MMPA up before the election.

Big Picture as of October 2003 - While the Congressional year began with three parallel intitiatives, each containing revised MMPA definitions and blanket exemption language (and all designed to clear the way for LFAS deployment), two of the three have failed to get traction in both houses. Rumsfeld's "Defense Transformation for the 21st Century Act" is not part of any legislations being currently considered, and the Senate is not addressing the MMPA reauthorization this year (leaving the House initiatives reported below moot). That leaves the remnants of the Readiness and Range Preservation Inititative, incorporated into the Defense Authorization Bill, as the only avenue for military exemptions that is still alive for this year. As noted below, the DAB is currently being worked on in a Conference Committee; last year, proposed environmental exemptions were mostly dropped at that stage, but this year, the MMPA language still on the table, thanks to the LFAS restraining order.
October 21,2003 letter from members of Congress expressing concern about the language weakening MMPA, whic is in the House version of the DAB being tustled over in Conference Committee: [READ LETTER]

September 2003: House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans today passed H.R. 2693, the reauthorization of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, including the same weakening language that is part of the House version of the Defense bill. The MMPA bill next moves to the full House Resources Committee.

July 2003: Marine Mammal Protection Act reauthorization begins its travels through the Congressional labyrinth, complete with the standard changes of language, one loosening the definition of harassment, the other allowing permits for "incidental takings" of marine mammals to be ocean-wide, rather than applying to small areas and small numbers (takings still must have a "negligable" impact of overall population health, but shifts the burdon of proof to the NMFS, which must issue take permits within 120 days if it cannot prove the taking will be more than incidental). Hearings were held in the Fisheries and Wildlife Subcommittee of the House Resource Committee (7/24), and in the Ocean, Fisheries, and Coast Guard Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee (7/16). A field hearing will be held in San Diego during the August recess.
See House MMPA bill (last two sections concern changed definitions) [DOWNLOAD BILL(doc)]
Witness List and Testimony from 7/16/03 Senate Subcommittee Hearing [WEBSITE]
Witness List and Testimony from 7/24/03 House Subcommittee Hearing [WEBSITE]

June 2003: Senate members for Conference Committee to reconcile the Defense Authorization Bill named [GO TO LIST OF NAMES]. (Update: House members named in July, also listed at this link)

5/23/03: The full House passed the Defense Authorization Bill after removing the language that loosened MMPA harassment definitions for non-military operations, but retained the looser permitting standards for all ocean sound sources. The full Senate passed its version of the Defense with NO MMPA exemptions or amendments. Source: ENN, 5/23/03 [READ ARTICLE]

5/14-15/03 - House Armed Services Committee took up the Defense Authorization Bill, and passed it along to the floor with the MMPA and ESA exemptions intact. The language weakening the definition of harassment of marine mammals and allowing permitting of wide-scale disruptions of behavior was expanded from the administration's military focus (designed largley to allow deployment of the LFAS system), and would apply also to industrial noise sources. [READ COMMITTEE PRESS RELEASE/SUMMARY] For those seriously committed to following this issue, the full hearings can be heard via RealAudio. [LISTEN 5/13] [LISTEN 5/14]

5/7/03: The House Resources Subcommittee approved the The National Security Readiness Act (part of the Defense Authorization Bill), including provisions weakening the MMPA definitions of harassment. According to critics, the language goes beyond the Pentagon's requests for exemptions, and will make it easier for other agencies and private activities, such as seismic surveys for minerals, to minimize regulation. Source: ENS, 5/7/03 [READ ARTICLE]

May 2003: The Senate Armed Services Committee approved its version of the Defense Authorization Bill WITHOUT inclusion of the Readiness and Range Preservation Act (which would have weakened of the MMPA and air/water/soil pollution regulations), but with exemptions to the ESA included.

April 2003: No environmental exemption amendments were included in the Supplemental Defense Appropriations Bill (to pay for the War in Iraq, among other things).

4/2/03: Hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Though environmental laws have caused few readiness problems so far, Benedict S. Cohen, deputy general counsel for the Defense Department, told the Committee "There's a wave of pending litigation that we do see as a threat. We don't want to wait until there's a train wreck." Republicans may attach exemptions as amendments to $80 billion war spending bills, said an aide to Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who chairs the committee. Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., Inhofe's predecessor as chairman, said he and other opponents would try to block the maneuver. "We're very concerned about it," he said. Source: AP Story, 4/3/03 (no link available)

4/1/03 Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness hearings. There will be three panels: One of Bush Administration folks from environmental agencies, one from environmental organizations, and one from state environmental agencies.
EPA backs Pentagon proposals - Source: GovExec.com, 4/1/03 [READ ARTICLE]

3/13/03 House Readiness Subcommittee, and Senate Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee, of the respective Armed Services Committees: Hearings on the MMPA and Defense Authorization Bill as related to military exemptions.
Statement of Chairman Joel Hefley [READ STATEMENT]
Written statements of witnesses:
The two URLs below are for the Senate and House Armed Services Committees' subcommittee hearings regarding the DoD proposals for the MMPA (and other environmental statutes). The Senate site takes you directly to the Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee hearing page, with .pdfs of the witness statements - on the House site, scroll down to find the Readiness Subcommittee hearing statements (as html files), including Chairman Hefley's opening statement
http://armed-services.senate.gov/e_witnesslist.cfm?id=639
http://www.house.gov/hasc/schedules/2003.html


Press Coverage of Military Exemption Issue

2003

Washington Post, 1/13/03 [READ ARTICLE] [READ ARTICLE (KC Star reprint)]

Los Angeles Times, 1/21/03 [READ ARTICLE]

Washington Post, 3/5/03 [READ ARTICLE]

New York Times, 3/6/03 [READ ARTICLE]

Los Angeles Times, 3/11/03 editorial [READ ARTICLE]

American Forces Press Service, 3/21/03 [READ ARTICLE]

New York Times, 3/22/03 editorial [READ ARTICLE]

High Country News, 3/31/03 [READ ARTICLE]

Environmental News Service, 4/1/02 (focus on community oppostion) [READ ARTICLE]

The Hill, 4/2/03 (focus on committee member and agency comments) [READ ARTICLE]

CNSNews.com, 5/2/03 [READ ARTICLE]

Congress Daily, 5/13/03 [READ ARTICLE]

Tech Central Station, 8/03 (in favor of exemptions) [READ ARTICLE]

Forbes Editorial, 9/15/03 (in favor of exemptions) [READ ARTICLE]


Letter from 27 Environmental Organizations to Dept. of Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Office of Management and Budget urging these agencies to oppose the proposals by the Department of Defense (DoD) to exempt military activities from key environmental laws.

Animal Protection Institute _ Center for International Environmental Law _
Cetacean Society International _ Defenders of Wildlife _
In Defense of Animals _ Earth Island Institute _ Earthjustice _
Endangered Species Coalition _ Environmental Defense _
Environmental Investigation Agency _ Friends of the Sea Otter _
The Fund for Animals _ Greenpeace _ The Humane Society of the United States _ Military Toxics Project _ National Environmental Trust _
Natural Resources Defense Council _ Oceana _ The Ocean Conservancy _
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility _ Seaflow _ Sierra Club _ Society for Animal Protective Legislation _
Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society _ The Whale Center of New England _ World Wildlife Fund


January 31, 2003

Mr. Mitchell E. Daniels, Sr.
Office of Management and Budget Director
The Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20503

Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
NOAA Administrator
Department of Commerce
14th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
#5128
Washington, D.C. 20230

Dr. Steven A. Williams
Director
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Department of Interior
1849 C. Street, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Dear Gentlemen:

On behalf of our conservation organizations and the millions of members we represent, we strongly urge you to reject adding anti-environmental provisions to the Administration's Department of Defense Authorization proposal for FY 2004. National security and environmental protection are not only compatible, they are inextricably linked.

The Department of Defense (DoD) is preparing to resubmit a proposal to exempt itself from complying with key provisions in many of the nation's most significant public health and wildlife conservation laws. Similar to an effort by DoD that was largely rejected by Congress last year, the Department seeks legislative and administrative waivers from the Clean Air Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Clean Water Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Endangered Species Act, and Marine Mammal Protection Act. The American people have long supported our nation's environmental and public health laws and believe government agencies such as the DoD should not be exempt from complying with laws intended to apply equally to all Americans.

We understand that the DoD may expand its proposal on the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This would require consultation with and approval of your agencies. We urge you to reject proposed changes that seek to weaken the MMPA, including a new definition of "harassment" that introduces ambiguity into a cornerstone provision of the act; blanket exemptions from the permitting process; proposals that would hamper permitting agencies from undertaking a thorough review of a "take" application; and elimination of existing restrictions that would allow military activities to take more than "small numbers" of marine mammals in a "specified geographic region."

By allowing many more military activities to escape vital reviews, monitoring requirements and mitigation measures, these changes would undermine 30 years of progress our nation has made in protecting whales, dolphins, seals, and other marine mammals. The changes would add substantial uncertainty to the MMPA, impede the enforcement efforts of the wildlife agencies, increase the risk of harm to marine mammals, and only raise the level of public controversy and concern. Strandings of marine mammals, similar to the 2000 event in the Bahamas and the 2002 event in the Canary Islands, could become more frequent.

The DoD has not made a case for such dramatic changes to the law. In fact, last March, NOAA's Assistant Administrator William Hogarth stated before the House Armed Services Committee that no small take or incidental harassment application submitted by the DoD has ever been denied. Moreover, provisions to accommodate Defense Department activities already exist within federal law, i.e. the Armed Services Code (10 U.S.C. §2014).

Existing laws provide for case-by-case determinations to ensure that both military readiness and environmental protection are achieved. Rather than pursue broad legislative or administrative changes, we would encourage the agencies to examine ways to make the existing structure even more effective, such as increasing staffing levels and funding at the permitting agencies and improving inter-agency consultations.

We appreciate your attention to these concerns.

Sincerely,

Dawn M. Martin Roger Rufe
Chief Operating Officer President
Oceana The Ocean Conservancy
Vice Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard (ret.)

Phil Clapp Vawter Parker
President Executive Director
National Environmental Trust Earthjustice

John H. Adams Patricia A. Forkan
President Executive Vice President
Natural Resources Defense Council The Humane Society of the United States

Carl Pope Rodger Schlickeisen
Executive Director President
Sierra Club Defenders of Wildlife

John Passacantando Fred Krupp
Executive Director President
Greenpeace Environmental Defense

William W. Rossiter Brock Evans
President Executive Director
Cetacean Society International Endangered Species Coalition

Jeff Ruch Christine Wolf
Executive Director of Government and International
Public Employees for Environmental Affairs
Responsibility The Fund for Animals

Alan Berger Elliot M. Katz, DVM
Executive Director President
Animal Protection Institute In Defense of Animals

David Phillips Donald Ingraham
Director, International Marine Mammal Project Executive Director
Earth Island Institute Friends of the Sea Otter

Allan Thornton Chris Butler-Stroud
President Chief Executive Officer
Environmental Investigation Agency Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society

Daniel B. Magraw, Jr. Mary Jo Rice
Executive Director Executive Director
Center for International Environmental Law Seaflow

Tara Thornton John Kullberg
Executive Director President
Military Toxics Project Society for Animal Protective Legislation

Mason Weinrich Brooks Yeager
Executive Director Vice President of Global Threats
The Whale Center of New England World Wildlife Fund


Action Info

Outline for letter-writing (by Roy Leggard, Jr.)
HTML (if you just want to print): [GO THERE]
MS Word (to edit): [DOWNLOAD(doc)]
Rich Text Format (for those who don't have Word, this'll open in most text editors): [DOWNLOAD(rtf)]

Legislative Action (From Mark Palmer at Earth Island)

Congressional Conference Committee on Defense Authorization Bill

Both the House and the Senate passed
different versions of this bill back in May; these two versions need
to be reconciled into one bill, but that has not happened yet.

Only the Senate has announced its members of the Senate/House
conference committee on the Defense Authorization Bill (see below);
the House has not yet acted.

However, we understand staff in the Senate and the House are
working on deals behind the scenes, and that there is enormous
pressure on the Republican-controlled House and Senate to gut
environmental laws, using this conference committee for the Defense
Authorization Bill. While actual votes in Congress on this issue are
not expected until September, an internal decision on environmental
exemptions may be made as soon as in the next two weeks.

As noted previously, the Senate version of the Defense
Authorization Bill includes weakened language for the Endangered
Species Act (ESA), exempting military lands from Critical Habitat
designations. Environmental groups succeeded in pushing an amendment
putting some legal teeth into wildlife habitat plans on military
lands that would replace the stronger Critical Habitat Designations
under the ESA.

The House version is by far the worst bill. The "small take"
permit process of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), which is
currently limited to small numbers of marine mammals in restricted
geographic areas, would be broadened for anyone, so there would no
longer be a numerical or geographic limits to the government issuing
a "small take" permit. Also, the provision proposed by the Pentagon
to allow Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his successors to exempt the
military from the MMPA for any reason was also left in the House
version. The House version further exempts military lands from
consideration as Critical Habitat under the Endangered Species Act
(ESA) and exempts the Navy and other military agencies from provision
of the MMPA in several important ways.

Clearly, the Senate version is the better of the two.

However, we are hearing rumors that the Republicans are
leaning towards the House version, or at least including some MMPA
exemptions in the final bill for Congress. Furthermore,
environmental clean-up language that both houses of Congress left out
of the bill is now being revived, reducing or eliminating the need
for the Pentagon to clean up toxics and hazardous waste left on
military lands, if approved by the conference committee.

The public must stand up to the military and DEMAND that
Congress maintain environmental laws that apply to the Dept. of
Defense to protect endangered species, marine mammals, and human
health!

What You Can Do:

For starters, write, fax, or call members of the Senate
conference committee (all members of the Senate Armed Services
Committee).

General mailing address for all:

Senator _______________
Room Number
Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Phone and fax numbers are included below. Remember, members
respond best to folks in their states who will be voting for them.
If you do not live in their state, consider contacting friends,
relatives, or other groups in that state to in turn contact their
Senator. (NOTE ON E-MAILS: Members of Congress do have e-mail
addresses, but many do not pay any attention to e-mail received at
this time. This will change in time, as e-mails become more
pervasive in our society. But right now, you are better off sending
a hand-written note, a personal fax, or making a person phone call,
which has more clout, than sending an e-mail.) (NOTE ON FAXES: Some
new members of the Senate do not yet have public fax numbers, but I
am working on it...)

Too many names? Contact Senators Warner and McCain. Senator
John Warner is Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and
will have strong influence on the outcome; similarly, Senator John
McCain is Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee which has
jurisdiction over the MMPA.

URGE THEM TO:

1. Oppose any amendments to exempt the military from environmental
laws. A strong nation needs a healthy, clean environment!
Environmental exemptions will lead to more toxic waste, more lost
habitat, and more dead marine mammals on our beaches. The Pentagon
has more impact on the environment than any other sector, public or
private, of the U.S.

2. The Senate version is the stronger version of the Defense
Authorization Bills from an environmental standpoint.

3. Oppose inclusion of exemptions for the Pentagon from the Marine
Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), or any further exemptions of
environmental laws in the final conference Defense Authorization Bill.


SPECIAL TIP: Congress will be recessing for most of the month of
August, which sometimes gives constituents an opportunity to meet
with their Senators and Representatives in their home districts.
Call your Rep's or Senator's local offices to set up a meeting to
urge them to oppose weakening amendments to the MMPA, the ESA, and
exemptions for the military from environmental laws!

Thanks for all your help! We need your ACTIVE support NOW!

Save the whales...

-- Mark J. Palmer

SENATE MEMBERS OF THE DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL CONFERENCE COMMITTEE:

Senator John Warner (R-VA)
Room SR 225
(202) 224-2023 (Phone)
(202) 224-6295 (Fax)

Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
Room SR 241
(202) 224-2235 (Phone)
(202) 228-2862 (Fax)

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK)
Room SR 453
(202) 224-4721 (Phone)
(202) 228-0380 (Fax)

Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Room SH 302
(202) 224-4774 (Phone)
(202) 224-3514 (Fax)

Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO)
Room SD 525
(202) 224-5941 (Phone)
(202) 224-6471 (Fax)

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Room SR 493
(202) 224-4124 (Phone)
(202) 224-3149 (Fax)

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
Room SR 172
(202) 224-2523 (Phone)
(202) 224-2693 (Fax)

Senator John Ensign (R-NV)
Room SR 364
(202) 224-6244 (Phone)
(202) 228-2193 (Fax)

Senator James Talent (R-MO)
Room SR 493
(202) 224-6154 (Phone)
(202) 228-1518 (Fax)

Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Room SR 416
(202) 224-3521 (Phone)
No Fax Available

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Room SR 290
(202) 224-5972 (Phone)
No Fax Available

Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC)
Room SR 120
(202) 224-6342 (Phone)
(202) 224-1100 (Fax)

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)
Room SH 517
(202) 224-2934 (Phone)
(202) 228-2856 (Fax)

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI)
Room SR 629
(202) 224-6221 (Phone)
(202) 224-1388 (Fax)

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
Room SR 317
(202) 224-4543 (Phone)
(202) 224-2417 (Fax)

Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV)
Room SH 311
(202) 224-3954 (Phone)
(202) 228-0002 (Fax)

Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)
Room SH 706
(202) 224-4041 (Phone)
(202) 224-9750 (Fax)

Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)
Room SH 320
(202) 224-4642 (Phone)
(202) 224-4680 (Fax)

Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI)
Room SH 141
(202) 224-6361 (Phone)
(202) 224-2126 (Fax)

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Room SH 716
(202) 224-5274 (Phone)
(202) 228-2183 (Fax)

Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE)
Room SH 720
(202) 224-6551 (Phone)
(202) 228-0012 (Fax)

Senator Mark Dayton (D-MN)
Room SR 346
(202) 224-3244 (Phone)
(202) 228-2186 (Fax)

Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN)
Room SR 463
(202) 224-5623 (Phone)
(202) 228-1377 (Fax)

Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
Room SR 476
(202) 224-4451 (Phone)
(202) 228-0282 (Fax)

Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Room SR 217
(202) 224-2353 (Phone)
(202) 228-0908 (Fax)

HOUSE DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION BILL CONFERENCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS:

Committee on Armed Services:
*Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Room 2265 RHOB; Phone: (202) 225-5672/ Fax: (202) 225-0235
*Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA)
Room 2466 RHOB; Phone: (202) 225-2011/ Fax: (202) 225-8137
*Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) - Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee Chair
Room 2230 RHOB; Phone: (202) 225-4422/ Fax: (202) 225-1942
*Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ)
Room 339 CHOB; Phone: (202) 225-4765/ Fax: (202) 225-0778
*Rep. John McHugh (R-NY)
Room 2441 RHOB; Phone: (202) 225-4611/ Fax: (202) 226-0621
*Rep. Terry Everett (R-AL)
Room 2312 RHOB; Phone: (202) 225-2901/ Fax: (202) 225-8913
*Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD)
Room 2412 RHOB; Phone: (202) 225-2721/ Fax: (202) 225-2193
*Rep. Howard McKeon (R-CA)
Room 2242 RHOB; Phone: (202) 225-1956/ Fax: (202) 225-0683
*Rep. William Thornberry (R-TX)
Room 131 CHOB; Phone: (202) 225-3706/ Fax: (202) 225-3486
*Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN)
Room 1507 LHOB; Phone: (202) 225-4636/ Fax: (202) 225-3284
*Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R-NC)
Room 422 CHOB; Phone: (202) 225-3415/ Fax: (202) 225-3286
*Rep. Jim Ryun (R-KS)
Room 330 CHOB; Phone: (202) 225-6601/ Fax: (202) 225-7986
*Rep. James Gibbons (R-NV)
Room 100 CHOB; Phone: (202) 225-6155/ Fax: (202) 225-5679
*Rep. Robin Hayes (R-NC)
Room 130 CHOB; Phone: (202) 225-3715/ Fax: (202) 225-4036
*Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM)
Room 318 CHOB; Phone: (202) 225-6316/ Fax: (202) 225-4975
*Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Room 2201 RHOB; Phone: (202) 225-1986/ Fax: (202) 225-2004
*Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO)-- Armed Services Democratic Ranking Member
Room 2206 RHOB; Phone: (202) 225-2876/ Fax: (202) 225-2695
*Rep. John Spratt (D-SC)
Room 1536 LHOB; Phone: (202) 225-5501/ Fax: (202) 225-0464
*Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX) --Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee
Democratic Ranking Member
Room 2304 RHOB; Phone: (202) 225-7742/ Fax: (202) 226-1134
*Rep. Lane Evans (D-IL)
Room 2211 RHOB; Phone: (202) 225-5905/ Fax: (202) 225-5396
*Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS)
Room 2311 RHOB; Phone: (202) 225-5772/ Fax: (202) 225-7074
*Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI)
Room 1502 LHOB; Phone: (202) 225-2726/ Fax: (202) 225-4580
*Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA)
Room 2447 RHOB; Phone: (202) 225-3411/ Fax: (202) 226-0771
*Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX)
Room 1527 LHOB; Phone: (202) 225-4831/ Fax: (202) 225-2016
*Rep. Vic Synder (D-AR)
Room 1319 LHOB; Phone: (202) 225-2506; Fax: (202) 225-5903
*Rep. Jim Turner (D-TX)
Room 208 CHOB; Phone: (202) 225-2401/ Fax: (202) 225-5955
*Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA)
Room 1230 LHOB; Phone: (202) 225-2965/ Fax: (202) 225-585


(NOTE ON FAX NUMBERS: Some offices will not give out their fax numbers (NA = Not Available); some of the numbers listed below may be disconnected. If you want a better number, contact the Representative's office using the Capitol Switchboard number (202) 224-3121, and ask for it.)

SOME KEY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO ADDRESS LETTERS TO

You can contact these members of Congress with your message, as they are in key positions. Even MORE IMPORTANT, if you know someone who lives in these members' districts, have that person contact them (members of Congress give much more weight to people in their own districts than to outsiders).

US House of Representatives

Rep. Thomas Allen (D-ME) --Armed Services Committee Member
Phone: (202) 225-6116/ Fax: (202) 225-5590
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) - Resources Fisheries & Wildlife Subcommittee Chair
Phone: (202) 225-5311/ Fax: (202) 225-0254
Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) - Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee Chair
Phone: (202) 225-4422/ Fax: (202) 225-1942
Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX) --Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee Democratic Ranking Member
Phone: (202) 225-7742/ Fax: (202) 226-1134
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-San Francisco) - House Minority Democratic Leader
Phone: (202) 225-0100/ Fax: (202) 225-8259
Rep. Richard Pombo (R-CA-Stockton) - Resources Committee Chairman
Phone: (202) 225-1947/ Fax: (202) 226-0861
Rep. Nicholas Rahall (D-WV) --Resources Democratic Ranking Member
Phone: (202) 225-3452/ Fax: (202) 225-9061
Rep. Ike Skelton - (D-MO) --Armed Services Democratic Ranking Member
Phone: (202) 225-2876/ Fax: (202) 225-2695


US Senate

Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) - Armed Services Subcommittee Ranking Democratic Member
Phone: (202) 224-6361/ Fax: (202) 224-2126
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) - Armed Services Committee Member
Phone: (202) 224-2523/ Fax: (202) 224-2693
Sen. Thomas Daschle (D-SD) - Minority Democratic Leader
Phone: (202) 224-2321/ Fax: (202) 224-7895
Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) - Commerce Committee Ranking Democratic Member & Appropriations Committee Member
Phone: (202) 224-6121/ Fax: (202) 224-4293
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) - Commerce Member & Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Ranking Democratic Member
Phone: (202) 224-3934/ Fax: (202) 224-6747
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) - Commerce Oceans Subcommittee Ranking Democratic Member
Phone: (202) 224-2742/ Fax: (202) 224-8525
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) - Commerce Committee Chairman
Phone: (202) 224-2235/ Fax: (202) 228-2862
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) - Commerce Oceans Subcommittee Chair
Phone: (202) 224-5344/ Fax: (202) 224-1946
Sen. John Warner (R-VA) - Armed Services Committee Chair
Phone: (202) 224-2023/ Fax: (202) 224-6295


PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD:
Please forward this action alert far and wide to your contacts!

IF YOU ARE READY TO DO MORE: HELP GET THIS STORY COVERED BY THE MEDIA!

Write a letter to the Editor of your local newspaper or call in to the news
tip lines for radio and TV news shows. Daily stories come out about the
military and Iraqi conflict, and you can respond to those stories with your
thoughts on these issues, and challenge the media to cover these threats to
important environmental protections.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:

Contact Seaflow, Protect Our Living Oceans, PO Box 507, Fairfax, CA 94978;
(415) 454-4443;

Or Earth Island Institute, International Marine Mammal Project, 300
Broadway, Suite 28, San Francisco, CA 94133; (415) 788-3666;

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