NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Environmental Laws Hindering Military Training

April 1, 2002

The Pentagon contends that some environmental protection laws are interfering with its ability to train soldiers and develop new weapons. So it is circulating a draft of a bill seeking exemptions on national security grounds.

  • Bombing ranges, air bases and training grounds would be exempted from certain mandates under sections of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Noise Control Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Endangered Species Act.
  • The Defense Department controls about 15 million acres for training grounds -- about 90 percent of which is undeveloped buffer.
  • It spends about $4 billion a year to comply with environmental laws.
  • The legislation would protect the military from lawsuits for violating rules like those devised to protect some endangered species.

Pentagon officials stress the need for domestic locations in which to train personnel for the war on terrorism -- citing, in particular, the room to maneuver and the ability to fire live ordnance.

But that can be made difficult by the regulations. At Fort Hood, Texas, one of the Army's top training installations, 84 percent of the 200,000 acres devoted to training were subject to limits to protect two endangered species and cultural artifacts.

Observers say environmentalists are gathering their troops to rally in opposition to the legislation.

Source: Katharine Q. Seelye, "Pentagon Seeks Exemption From Environmental Laws," New York Times, March 30, 2002.


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