1994 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@igc.org>
Date: Wed, 19 Oct 1994 13:36:56 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: Re: Public Participation

 In September, the Department of Defense (DOD) and U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency finalized its Restoration Advisory
Board (RAB) Implementation Guidelines, which had been circulating in
Draft form for several months. Technically, the guidelines serve as
recommendations and a resource from military personnel regulatory
officials, and the public, but the two Federal agencies have made it clear,
in series of training sessions around the country, that base commanders
and remedial project managers are expects to abide by its principles.

 On the whole, the guidelines are similar to the draft version.
However, a few key points have been clarified, and key elements of the
RAB program have been highlighted by more careful formatting. Because
the guidelines are the product of a long, interactive process, they do not
discuss the technical assistance funding for RAB members approved by
Congress in September.

 Specifically, the new guidelines say, "Community members
selected for RAB membership should reflect the diverse interests within
the local community. RAB members should/live work in the affected
community or be impacted by the restoration program." This differs from
the carefully negotiated language of the Federal Facilities Environmental
Restoration Dialogue Committee, which specifically urged inclusion of
"representatives of citizen, environmental, and public interest groups
whose members live in the communities or regions in which a site is
located. The new language may provide the flexibility to open up RAB's
at facilities such a Nevada's Fallon Naval Air Station, but it doesn't
mandate it. At Fallon, Reno-based activist Grace Bukowski, on the staff
of the Rural Alliance for Military Accountability, has been told that she is
not local enough for the RAB.

 Most important, the Guidelines call for the establishment of a
balanced, diverse selection panel, drawn from the local community, at
each facility. The panel is to select the remaining community members of
the RAB in an open and fair manner.

 While the Defense Department co-chair is to be selected by the
installation's commanding officer, the Guidelines make it clear that the 
community co-chair is selected by the community members of the RAB.

 The Guidelines also address the legally complex issue of the
relevance of the Federal Advisory Committee Act: "DOD will consider all
advice provided by the RAB whether consensus in nature or provided on
an individual basis, including advice given that represents the minority
view of members. However, because DOD does not intend for Federal
Advisory Committee Act (FACA) requirements to apply to RAB's,
consensus is not a prerequisite for RAB recommendations. Each
individual should provide advice as an individual, not as a group. At the
same time, while consensus is not required or asked of the board
members, in the natural course of discussions consensus may evolve."

 Finally, the Guidelines recognize that community members may
raise some issues not directly related to environmental restoration. They
suggest, "DOD should be responsible to these concerns by referring them
to appropriate offices at the installation or to alternative forums more
appropriate for the issue..."

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