The extent to which
the U.S. military has to comply with environmental laws varies
from statute to statute. There are generally three ways they get
around compliance with these laws: direct exemption, sovereign
immunity, and the Unitary Executive policy. They are exempt from
many important environmental and public safety laws, such as the
Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and sections of the Clean Water Act,
and naval nuclear reactors are not regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory
Even when the law
does apply to military operations, regulators have no ability
to assess fines, shut down polluting operations or otherwise enforce
compliance with the laws that cover the military. Communities
neighboring military bases have less environmental protection
than other cities in the nation. Until the military is brought
under complete regulation, our public health and safety, as well
as our environment, will be at increased risk from military pollution.
The need for regulation
clearly exists. Last September, for example, the Marines spilled
over 2 million gallons of sewage into the ocean — but unlike a
similar case in the City of San Diego, no fines have been assessed.
The Navy’s current dredging project has violated their permit
twice. In the past few years, the Navy has spilled over 15,000
gallons of oil into our coastal waters. And, because the Navy
is self-regulated for nuclear activity and not required to disclose
full information about the area of impact from an accident, neighboring
communities do not have the full information needed to plan effective
emergency plans to deal with a nuclear-reactor accident aboard
naval nuclear-powered vessels.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? The
Military Environmental Responsibility Act (MERA) is a bill proposed
by San Diego Congressperson Bob Filner and supported by Congressperson
Cynthia McKinney. MERA would remove all military exemptions from
our state and federal environmental laws, bringing military operations
under the same environmental regulations as the private sector.
You can help bring
the military into compliance with all environmental and health
and safety laws by:
- Signing and returning
the MERA endorsement form inserted in this newsletter. COMD
is joining with the Peace Resource Center of San Diego and the
Environmental Health Coalition in an effort to collect 1,000
endorsers by March 31 to launch the campaign. Endorsements will
continue to be collected after that date.
- Downloading and
photocopying the MERA endorsement PDF
form. Get your friends, family and neighbors to sign!
Writing to Congressperson
Filner in support of the MERA (U.S. Congress, 2463 Rayburn Bldg.,
Washington, D.C. 20515). Ask your congressperson to join with
Congressperson Filner in promoting the MERA.
This article is
from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed
to Militarism and the Draft (www.comdsd.org).