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DoD a Leader in Environmental Stewardship, Officials Say

By Terri Lukach
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2005 – The Department of Defense is not only meeting the challenges of environmental stewardship but continues to be a leader in every aspect of environmental management, officials said recently.

DoD's environmental record was the subject of both a recent report to Congress and a national conference of industry and military environmental mangers in April.

The 2004 Defense Environmental Programs Annual Report to Congress, submitted on April 12, said the Department of Defense continues to make progress in the environmental stewardship of military lands and assets in each of its four major environmental-management programs.

In the area of conservation of both natural and cultural assets, the report stated that DoD's inventory for biological resources on military lands rose nearly 80 percent in 2004. Sixty-one percent of all installations and properties contaminated in some way by past defense operations had undergone environmental restoration. Ninety-four percent of DoD's permitted wastewater systems met regulatory standards for discharge levels. Also in 2004, nearly 61 percent of solid and hazardous waste was diverted from entering disposal facilities, exceeding by one year the 2005 goal of 40 percent, the report stated.

The department's environmental programs "are well established, and we are succeeding in reaching our environmental priorities," said Alex Beehler, assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for environment, safety and occupational health. "And we will continue to meet the environmental challenges ahead," he said in a press release on 2005 Joint Services Environmental Management Conference, in Tampa, Fla., this month.

Beehler was one of several DoD officials who spoke at the conference. Other speakers included Michael W. Wynne, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics; Paul Mayberry, deputy undersecretary for readiness; and Phillip W. Grone, deputy undersecretary for installations and environment.

Grone told the conference that the department continues to be a leader in every aspect of environmental management. He called the department's Defense Installations Strategic Plan a comprehensive approach to asset management that "provides specific initiatives, timelines and performance measures by which we can assess our success in achieving our goals and objectives."

Grone said the expanded scope of the plan reflects the integral relationship between natural and manmade assets and supports defense installation transformation that protects the environment.

"As the guardians of defense installations and the environment, we embrace transformation as the best way to guarantee these capabilities are delivered effectively and efficiently," he said.

Mayberry said sustaining military readiness and preserving and enhancing the environment are "inextricably linked." Sustaining readiness and taking care of the environment are not separate realms but twin missions in the same cause, he said.

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