1994 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@igc.org>
Date: Thu, 13 Oct 1994 23:48:42 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: Public Participation

Congress Approves RAB Technical Assistance

Public participation in Defense Department cleanup decisions, in the form of
Restoration Advisory Boards and Pentagon-funded technical assistance to
public members of those boards, has been approved by Congress. The
House-Senate Conference Committee on the Defense Authorization Act
approved final language as Section 326 of the Defense bill, combining the
House-passed Underwood (D-Guam) Amendment, (see Military and the
Environment, June 1994)] and the Senate's Kohl (D-Wisconsin)
Amendment. Though the Environmental Security office supported the
amendment, it had not attempted to initiate such a program without a
legislative mandate.

In Section 326, Congress for the first time Authorizes an expenditure of
$7.5 million, from the Defense Environmental Restoration Account (DERA)
and Base Realignment and Closure Accounts, to support technical
assistance for the community members of restoration advisory boards
(RAB's) and their predecessors, technical review committees, to help them 
oversee local base cleanup plans. Even before final passage and Presidential
signature, the Environmental Security office has started examining how to
provide such assistance, and it is expected to consult with representatives of
environmental and other community groups before issuing its regulations.

The legislation also establishes a statutory basis for RAB's and directs the
Defense Department to "prescribe regulations regarding [their]
characteristics, composition, funding, and establishment." Thus, should the
political winds within the Pentagon environmental program shift again, it
will be much more difficult for those opposed to public participation to
undermine the program. Nothing in the legislation contradicts current
Defense policy.

More RAB's Planned

Though at some bases disputes remain over the appointment of members or
the selection of community co-chairs, the Pentagon Environmental Security
Office is displaying its commitment to public participation. Within a year, it
is likely that hundreds of RAB's will be in place, making the program an
unprecedented experiment in direct democracy. The April 14, 1994
Management Guidance for the Defense Environmental Restoration Program
(DERP) adopts, in essence, the recommendations of the Federal Facilities
Environmental Restoration Dialogue Committee (FFERDC) for establishing
advisory boards. The Guidance states, "A Restoration Advisory Board will
be established at installations where there is sufficient, sustained community
interest" or if an installation determines that a RAB is needed. Either a
request from a local government or a petition from fifty local residents is
evidence of sufficient interest:

The Guidance also clarifies other elements of the RAB process. For
example, it makes it clear that the community co-chair of each RAB will be
selected by the community members of the RAB. At bases where another
process has been followed, new co-chairs are being selected.

This article is reprinted from the September, 1994 edition of the CITIZENS
information, or to be place on the mailing list, contact <lsiegel@igc.org>.

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