May 01, 2003

Wyden Unswayed in Opposing New DOD Environmental Waivers

Senator finds "no justification" for threat to public health and welfare

Washington, DC - U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today joined Senator Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.), Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) and other Members of Congress in speaking out against proposed environmental waivers requested by the Department of Defense (DOD) for the ostensible purpose of improving military readiness. At a hearing of the Environment and Public Works Committee on April 2, 2003, Wyden expressed his concern that the Defense Department request stems not from a current need to change the law to improve military readiness, but from a concern that legal judgments in the future could hypothetically have an impact on the military's ability to conduct exercises not yet conceived or planned.Statement of Senator Ron WydenOn Proposed Environmental Waivers for the Department of Defense"The importance of adequate training and preparation to ensure the safety and survival of American troops has been proven over and over again in recent weeks. What has not been proven is that additional environmental waivers are needed today to make that training possible. Since the Vietnam War, the Department of Defense has had waivers in numerous major environmental laws to allow for military readiness, but has never found the need to invoke those waivers. No sufficient justification has been provided for the new proposed exemptions, which would certainly endanger the health and welfare of citizens here at home while providing no apparent or immediate benefit to the readiness of our troops. The Congress is being asked to make a false choice between combat readiness and public health and welfare. Both are possible - and in fact currently exist - under the environmental laws as they stand."