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Environmental Security: Beyond Compliance to Pollution Prevention
Remarks by Sherri W. Goodman, deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security, The Installation Commanders Conference, Washington, Tuesday, January 24, 1995

They say there are two kinds of people in the world: Those who do the work and those who get the credit.

Today I want those who do the work to finally get the credit. So on behalf of Secretary [of Defense William J.] Perry and the entire Department of Defense, I want to applaud our installation commanders for their terrific work as environmental stewards. I've visited a lot of military installations over the past 20 months to see the environmental security program in action, and I am deeply impressed with I've seen, whether it's:

 

  • Preventing future pollution (pharmacy);
  • Helping to develop new technology to do these things better (nontoxic paint);
  • Conserving precious lands and resources (Mojave Desert);
  • Complying with environmental laws and regulations (Clean Air Act); or
  • Cleaning up after past problems (everywhere).

You have helped to make the department a national environmental leader, all while helping to maintain the best military force in the world.

These days it's customary to talk about change. And for the Department of Defense there has been a lot of change. For starters, the Soviet Union is a distant bad dream, while all over the world new democracies are struggling to be born.

This change has had enormous implications for our military force structure and for our military force infrastructure, which includes military bases. But the change that heralds perhaps the most significant impact for the defense environmental program occurred on election day.

We woke up with a whole new Congress. A new majority. New members. New chairmen.

We cannot ignore these changes. But for today I want to focus on some things that haven't changed. First, the American people still want clean air, clean water and abundant natural resources, and the polls show they support the laws and regulations to protect them.

"America the Beautiful" is not just a song -- it's the way we look at ourselves. That hasn't changed, and neither has the DoD's commitment to protecting the environment. And we are also committed to reinventing government, to reduce unnecessary regulations and get more results at less cost. That hasn't changed either.

Some things also haven't changed at the Pentagon. Secretary Perry remains deeply and personally committed to the quality of our troops and their families. It's his No. 1 priority.

Quality of life involves not only things like housing, commissaries and day care, but the quality of the environment on and around the bases where our military families live, work, go to school and recreate.

So the secretary of defense remains committed to the defense environmental security program. In fact, he's singled it out as one of the programs he plans to vigorously defend in the new Congress. And Dr. Perry is not known for making idle promises.

I know this is important to our installation commanders. Because something else hasn't changed. Thousands of fuel tanks need to be removed and replaced. Hundreds of waste water plants and air emission controls need to be upgraded.

Scores of natural resource problems need to be rectified. And we've only begun to clean up the thousands of contaminated sites. Nevertheless, the need for the defense environmental security program has been questioned in the new Congress. Some wonder what protecting the environment have to do with the military mission.

It's a good question, and like most good questions we cannot ignore it. As Mark Twain said, "It is the will of God that we have Congressmen, and we must bear the burden."

As the deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security it is my job to explain to Congress why environmental security is critical to the defense mission and should be fully supported.

There are four major reasons:

First, as I've already mentioned, it's critical to protecting the quality of life of our forces.

Second, because it's critical to military readiness. If we don't clean up and protect our environment now, it's going to cost us more down the road. And that will take a much larger chunk out of the money we set aside for operations, training and maintenance.

For example, when DoD's cleanup programs remove contamination from an area that was previously off limits, we clear the way for future use of the reclaimed sites for military operations and training.

Through our work with environmental federal and state regulators we are able to integrate their concerns into our defense operations so military training may proceed without impediment and the defense mission is supported.

The conservation program keeps our training exercises realistic and representative. We do this by rotating training areas, reseeding and replanting. Therefore, we are assured that our future training will be as effective as our current training.

Third, because it's money well spent. We've improved the efficiency and performance of the environmental security in all areas, from cleanup to compliance, conservation, pollution prevention and technology development.

And fourth, because it's the law. The first act of Congress was to apply to itself the same laws as the rest of America.

I will work in the coming year to implement a risk-based approach to cleanup that will direct more resources and effort to the most significant environmental hazards. By implementing Fast Track Cleanup, using effective field screening technologies and aggressive mitigation, we can find ways to avoid the conventional, costly and lengthy requirements -- in so doing we save time and money.

We must go beyond compliance and find new ways to direct more resources to pollution prevention. The key to protecting and saving the environment is prevention.

I plan to build on the firm foundation that we have by working with the regulatory community to establish performance-based goals and to eliminate the bureaucratic red tape requirements that unnecessarily consume time and money. By changing the way we do things we can begin to fund more pollution prevention and get a better return on each environmental dollar invested.

Our goal for pollution prevention is to put cleanup out of work. One way we are doing this is through the CHRIMP (Consolidated Hazardous Material Reutilization and Inventory Management Program), or the "pharmacy" concept. This concept controls the purchase, storage and distribution of hazardous materials. This management practice requires that hazardous materials sufficient only for the immediate task be issued to maintenance shops.

To support the four pillars we must have a responsive and reinvigorated technology program. We can no longer afford for each service to approach its research in isolation. We must look out beyond DoD and seek cooperative efforts with industry, state and local governments and other federal agencies. Our effort must even become global. We are now negotiating with many foreign governments to establish protocols for the exchange of technologies.

It is imperative that we continue our efforts to reduce the potential for accidents among our workers. This requires constant vigilance to identify safety and occupational health problems and the full commitment of commanders to fund their resolution. An indicator that our efforts were paying dividends was the decrease in the rate of accidental deaths below the rate of nonaccidental deaths for the first time.

One area you have a remarkable record is conservation. This land supports a wide variety of military activities essential to maintaining readiness. The land also supports nationally important cultural and natural resources. Our task has been to balance the military readiness requirements with the preservation of these resources.

In compliance we spend just more than $2 billion per year complying with laws enacted to protect our personnel and the environment, as well as to prevent creation of new cleanup sites. Some of these requirements will remain mandatory for you to operate your facilities. ... The Clean Air Act will have significant impacts on your future operational capabilities.

Beyond pollution prevention we are looking for ways to meet the intent of our environmental laws in a cost-effective manner. For example, we just reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed rule to control emissions from aerospace coating operations. We recommended an alternative proposal to EPA that meets over 99 percent of the required reductions, but saves close to $1 billion in implementation costs."

In closing, let me quote former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney. He echoed the sentiment of over 85 percent of the American population when he said: "The primary mission of the DoD ... is no excuse for ignoring the environment. DoD is resolved to become the federal leader in environmental compliance and protection and to make environmental concerns part of the daily business of military bases." We are continuing this important mission in many ways, but we need your help. You make it happen at the local installation level. I need to hear from you what we in the Pentagon can do for you.

As you can see from Secretary Cheney's words, protecting the environment is not a partisan issue. In fact, it was Sen. Ted Stevens, Republican of Alaska, who is known as the father of the Defense Environmental Restoration Program. The largest increase in the cleanup and compliance programs in the department occurred between 1990-1994, from $1.4 billion to $4.4 billion.

I need your help in the coming year as we defend our environmental programs to Congress and the American people. I challenge you to help make the case of how critical environmental security is to the DoD mission. Thank you.

 

Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission