The Department of Defense recently released its fiscal 2005 Defense Environmental Programs Annual Report to Congress.
The report details DoD spending and performance in four major environmental program areas: conservation; environmental restoration; compliance; and pollution prevention. It is through these four programs that DoD manages its natural and cultural resources, restores contaminated lands, administers its regulatory compliance activities, and prevents hazardous materials from reaching communities on the approximately 30 million acres of land under DoD stewardship.
The annual report shows that DoD is making significant progress in several areas.
Conservation -- By the end of fiscal 2005, DoD had completed approximately 86 percent of biological inventories and 88 percent of wetlands inventories, and updated 93 percent of the natural resource management plans and 68 percent of the cultural resource management plans. A biological inventory, used for management of natural resources, is an inventory of any plants and animals located on the installation to identify high priority resources in order to develop conservation measures and guide land management practices. Wetlands inventories identify the characteristics, extent and status of wetlands, deepwater habitats and other wildlife habitats located on an installation.
Environmental Restoration -- DoD has had a large-scale environmental restoration effort underway for nearly two decades and has met required cleanup standards at approximately 72 percent of its current and former defense properties impacted from past defense activities. In fiscal 2005 alone, DoD completed cleanup efforts at 269 sites.
Compliance -- Under federal environmental laws, DoD must comply with the same federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations that apply to state and local governments and the private sector. For DoD, fiscal 2005 saw a nine percent decline in open enforcement actions and an eight percent decline in new enforcement actions over the same period in fiscal 2004.
Pollution Prevention -- Efforts in pollution prevention are a central focus of DoD management efforts at the installation level. In fiscal 2005, DoD realized a cost savings of $159.9 million by employing integrated solid waste management practices and diverting over 55 percent of solid waste from ever entering landfills.
“DoD strives to continuously improve its environmental performance by proving itself to be a strategic environmental leader by exceeding compliance standards, improving operational efficiency, and enhancing partnerships to identify new and innovative opportunities," said Alex Beehler, assistant deputy under secretary of defense for environment, safety and occupational health. "Together, DoD and the components ensure the safety of human health and secure the environmental future of defense properties to maintain a safer America.”
The 2005 report is available online at https://www.denix.osd.mil/DEP2005.