The Department of Defense announced today an important step forward in its approach to environmental stewardship by issuing policy requiring implementation of Environmental Management Systems (EMS). The policy calls for systematic integration of environmental management into all missions, activities, and functions. The policy requires current processes to be continually reviewed to identify better ways to reconcile national defense and environmental stewardship missions.
In taking this step, DoD is reemphasizing its commitment to the environment and its position that simply complying with environmental laws and regulations is not enough. EMS is not a new requirement, but a change in management practices. The Department's approach is to adapt existing management processes so they systematically identify and reduce the environmental risks inherent in mission activities. This systematic approach is intended to make compliance with environmental laws simpler, less costly, and a routine part of mission planning and execution. DoD believes this will enhance mission performance while it reduces environmental costs and liabilities.
"Balancing our training and operational needs with the demands of sound environmental stewardship is an increasingly complex challenge, one in which we must succeed to accomplish our mission," said Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment Raymond DuBois. "Environmental management systems are a proven tool for defining and achieving this balance," he said.
EMS is a recognized best management practice implemented by leading corporations worldwide. In industry, it is recognized as a more effective management approach than traditional environmental compliance-based approaches, because it helps to align business and environmental goals. DoD will use EMS to align defense mission and environmental goals.
The White House supports DoD for adopting the policy. "EMS is an important part of President Bush's management and stewardship agenda," said White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chairman James L. Connaughton. "I applaud the Department of Defense for being a leader in EMS and for taking this step today," he said.
The DoD policy is on the web at https://www.denix.osd.mil/denix/Public/Library/EMS/Documents/dodems-040502.pdf.