2009 CPEO Military List Archive

From: "Laura Olah" <cswab@merr.com>
Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2009 08:59:49 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] CSWAB UPDATE: Feature Story in The Progressive
MONDAY, JUNE 8, 2009
Fighting Militarism?s Toxic Legacy
By Elizabeth DiNovella, June 5, 2009

One of the most pernicious effects of the U.S. government?s commitment to
militarism is a toxic landscape. Current legislation pending in the
House, H.R. 672, the Military Environmental Responsibility Act, would force
the military to comply with environmental and public safety laws.

?The Department of Defense and Department of Energy have not been held to
the same environmental standards as everyone else, and as a result the
military continues to be the nation?s biggest polluter,? says Laura Olah,
executive director of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB).

Olah knows a lot about military pollution. She and her neighbors in rural
Wisconsin discovered their drinking water wells were polluted with high
levels of carcinogenic solvents. Fifty years of weapons manufacturing from
the nearby Badger Army Ammunitions Plant had poisoned groundwater,
contaminating wells more than a mile away.

This tenacious bunch of citizens has been fighting to get the Department of
Defense to clean up after itself for nearly twenty years.
?The bill will help leverage cleanup at the local Army base which should
have been completed years ago,? says Olah. ?The Wisconsin Department of
Natural Resources and EPA finalized enforceable cleanup orders more than a
decade ago but the biggest contaminated site at Badger still hasn?t been

?Explosives, mercury, solvents, and other toxins that pose a risk to both
human health and the wildlife are still found at unsafe levels in surface
soil and with the years of delayed cleanup, these contaminants have migrated
to surface water and to groundwater, polluting nearby rural drinking water
wells,? she adds. ?Demanding a complete and comprehensive cleanup will
ensure that future generations will not be burdened with the legacy of
pollution from Badger.?

CSWAB is part of a national coalition of affected communities and
organizations that are supporting this federal legislation. H.R. 672 seeks
to eliminate military waivers to key environmental laws such as the Clean
Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, and the
Marine Mammal Protection Act.

H.R. 672 would ?require the Department of Defense and all other
defense-related agencies of the United States to fully comply with Federal
and State environmental laws, including certain laws relating to public
health and worker safety, that are designed to protect the environment and
the health and safety of the public, particularly those persons most
vulnerable to the hazards incident to military operations and installations,
such as children, members of the Armed Forces, civilian employees, and
persons living in the vicinity of military operations and installations.?

On June 5, World Environment Day, CSWAB and other coalition members
organized a national call-in day to increase the number of Congressional

Representative Bob Filner, Democrat of California, introduced the Military
Environmental Responsibility Act on January 26, 2009. As for April 18, there
were only five co-sponsors:
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Rep. Michael Honda (D-CA)
Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

This isn?t the first time these groups have worked together on this issue.
The coalition sent a letter to the White House, organized by Citizens for
Safe Water Around Badger, expressing support for H.R. 672 back in March.

The letter states, ?Unregulated military projects have placed countless
communities, workers, soldiers, and families at increased risk for cancer
and other deadly disease from exposure to military toxins?the hidden
casualties here at home. Even as we write this letter, contamination caused
by munitions production, testing, and disposal is poisoning our drinking
water wells, contaminating the air we breathe, destroying our lakes, rivers,
and fisheries, and polluting our soils and farmlands.?

Olah is optimistic that the legislation will eventually pass.

?Independent reviews by the Government Accountability Office have shown that
environmental compliance does NOT interfere with the military?s ability to
do its job,? she says. ?As taxpayers, we are paying for thousands of
military cleanups like the Badger Army Ammunition Plant, which alone may
ultimately cost more than $200 million. The bill is not only in the best
interest of the health of our soldiers, civilian workers, neighboring
communities and families?it?s in the best interest of our pocketbooks.?

TO VIEW THE ARTICLE ONLINE, GO TO: http://www.progressive.org/node/131713

Laura Olah, Executive Director
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB)
E12629 Weigand's Bay South
Merrimac, WI  53561
(608) 643-3124

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