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April 19, 2004
Gregoire Opposes DOD Exemption from Environmental Laws

OLYMPIA -- Attorney General Christine Gregoire has urged Congress to reject proposed legislation that would exempt the U.S. Department of Defense from major national environmental laws governing air quality and toxic waste cleanup on military bases.

In a letter to key congressional committees, Gregoire and 38 attorneys general said the sweeping exemptions being requested by DOD are not justified, and would severely impact the states' authority to protect the health of citizens and the environment.

The DOD is seeking amendments to the laws regulating the management, disposal and cleanup of hazardous wastes on the basis that state authority over clean-up of military sites could interfere with military readiness. The states claim the DOD has already acknowledged none of the laws has ever impacted the readiness of any military facilities. The existing laws also allow the President to grant the DOD waivers in cases where state requirements could interfere with military readiness.

The laws from which DOD is seeking exemptions are the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund law, and the Clean Air Act.

"The fact is DOD has never come forward with any evidence that these laws interfere with military readiness," said Gregoire. "The State of Washington and the military have always had a good working relationship."

The legislation would affect more than 24 million acres of military ranges across the country. In Washington, the Department of Defense has a significant presence with a full complement of Army, Navy and Air Force bases and substantial areas of active and inactive ranges potentially affected by this legislation.


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