Pentagon renews request for environmental exemptions

The Defense Department is once again asking Congress to exempt military training ranges from environmental laws.

Pentagon officials announced Tuesday that they would ask lawmakers to exempt the military's 525 live-fire ranges from key provisions of the 1970 Clean Air Act, 1980 Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, and the 1976 Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

Without granting the exemptions, the Defense Department will continue to face lawsuits over not complying with environmental rules that could force the military to curtail training activities. To date, the Environmental Protection Agency has declined to apply the laws to military training ranges.

Paul Mayberry, deputy undersecretary for readiness at Defense, told reporters the proposed changes were "all about readiness." He said the key to military success is its ability to train realistically at live-fire test ranges.

The changes are:

  • Granting test ranges a three-year extension from complying with the Clean Air Act requirement when new units or weapons systems are moved to a base.
  • Exempting military munitions at training ranges from CERCLA and RCRA laws, which some say classify munitions as solid waste and require expensive cleanup activities.
Raymond Dubois, deputy undersecretary for installations and environment at Defense, emphasized the changes are meant to be clarifications and should not be seen as broad exemptions to environmental laws. He says the changes would apply only to active training ranges, not closed sites, or nontraining installations. Cleanup activities at former military sites would continue uninterrupted, Dubois added.

The Defense Department has sought exemptions from the rules for the past two years, but Congress has declined to approve them. Lawmakers did grant Defense exemptions from five other environmental laws, including some portions of the 1973 Endangered Species Act, because they threatened military training.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.