2001 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: 22 Aug 2001 21:43:16 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Aggregate Buy-Out of Base Closure Cleanup
I referred this paper in a message about federal-to-federal transfers
earlier today, but it appears that I never sent it out when I drafted it
in February. - Lenny


Most of the discussion of environmental buy-out - that is, the lump sum
payment by the Defense Department to local and private parties to
conduct and insure cleanup - has focused, thus far, on one installation
at a time. What if Congress were offered the opportunity to buy out a
huge chunk of the next Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) environmental
obligation, all at once, or at least in two or three steps?

That is, within three or four years of the approval of the next BRAC
list, Congress would agree to a one-time aggregate appropriation to
buy-out whichever cleanups are 1) suitable under criteria that I discuss
below and 2) negotiated with local reuse authorities and their
contractors/partners, at each facility. In some ways, this would
resemble Resolution Trust, in that the pain, though large, would be felt
all at once. Conceivably, it could be broken into two chunks, with the
second buy-out, two or three years later, covering those facilities
where negotiations were not complete by the deadline for the first

Buy-outs could cover portions of installations while leaving other
portions, such as ordnance ranges of off-post solvent plumes, to the
old, annual appropriations process. Some facilities, by choice or
necessity, would remain in the old-style BRAC program. And privatized
facilities that failed to comply with their negotiated agreements might
kick back to the old program, with insurance paying back the appropriate
share of the buy-out price.

The political appeal seems obvious. Congress could wash its hands of the
participating facilities. The principal advantage of this approach,
however, would be to overcome the constitutional requirement for
drip-by-drop annual appropriations. 

The principal shortcoming is that facilities unsuitable for early
transfer might take advantage of the funding opportunity. That's why
clear criteria for suitability would have to be established, up front. I
believe those criteria should include:

1) preliminary agreement on remedial objectives based upon openly
developed land use plans and sufficient characterization to define the
general nature and extent of the contamination;

2) compliance with federal contracting rules, including open bidding;

3) continuing public participation.

Another major advantage, of course, is that the deadline for the
one-time appropriation would EXPEDITE transfer and cleanup negotiations.
On the other hand, the deadline for the one-time appropriation would
RUSH transfer and cleanup negotiations.


Lenny Siegel
Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
c/o PSC, 222B View St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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