House Exempts Department of Defense From Key Environmental Laws, Threatening Wildlife

Statement by Karen Wayland, Acting Legislative Director, NRDC

WASHINGTON (November 7, 2003) -- Tucked away in the defense authorization bill passed this morning by the House of Representatives were Bush administration-sponsored provisions exempting the Defense Department from complying with the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Below is a statement by Karen Wayland, acting legislative director for NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council).

"The Pentagon is trying to exploit the unfortunate events of the past two years by asking us to sacrifice our natural heritage under the guise of national security. The United States has the most powerful military in the world, and the Pentagon built that fighting force while complying with our environmental laws.

"Exempting the Pentagon from these laws will allow the military to threaten whales, dolphins and other marine mammals with sonar and underwater explosives, and destroy the habitat of the endangered birds and mammals that live on the 25 million acres it controls across the country -- with next to no environmental review.

"An overwhelming majority of Americans believe the Pentagon should comply with our environmental laws. No government agency should be above the law, especially those that protect America's air and water, public health, and endangered wildlife."

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 550,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.