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DoD Helps Protect Human Health, Environment
Prepared Remarks of Sherri W. Goodman, deputy undersecretary of defense , National Conference of Black Mayors, St. Louis,, Friday, April 25, 1997

Defense Issues: Volume 12, Number 30-- DoD Helps Protect Human Health, Environment DoD takes the high road in carrying out the executive order on environmental justice, involving local communities and minority businesses in environmental compliance and cleanup at military installations.

Volume 12, Number 30

DoD Helps Protect Human Health, Environment

Prepared remarks by Sherri W. Goodman, deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security, to the National Conference of Black Mayors, St. Louis, April 25, 1997.

Good morning. ... I am here today representing the Department of Defense. Many of the mayors here are very familiar with the many environmental and economic programs DoD administers because they have a DoD installation in their city. Those of you who are unfamiliar with DoD's environmental programs might be surprised to learn that we are the third largest landowner in the federal government. We have a great responsibility to protect human health and the environment, and we take this responsibility very seriously.

Environmental security includes pollution prevention, conservation, compliance, cleanup, the Explosive Safety Board and the Pest Management Board.

I would like to tell you about three ways DoD is supporting you and your communities: DoD's work to implement environmental justice; economic opportunities in the environment; and partnering with communities.

DoD's environmental justice strategy focuses on implementing institutional changes rather than one-time projects to ensure that a healthy and safe environment exists around DoD installations. DoD does not have the authority to issue grants or fund projects specifically for environmental justice. Rather, our approach is to identify opportunities within the day-to-day operations of our installations and in mission-related activities where environmental principles may be applied. By integrating environmental justice issues into existing policy and through the National Environmental Policy Act, we are ensuring that DoD is meeting our environmental justice responsibilities and changing the way we do business.

The military departments have issued or are in the process of drafting guidance for use in considering environmental justice issues. They are also educating and training their personnel on all aspects of environmental justice.

We are also putting the finishing touches on a training video that explains to all DoD military and civilian personnel the requirements of the executive order on environmental justice. Our goal is to increase awareness and infuse the spirit and intent of the executive order into DoD's decision-making process from the bottom to the very top.

We are making information more accessible to environmental justice communities through the Defense Environmental Network Information Exchange, or DENIX. We added a public menu, which has information on DoD's environmental justice initiatives. The Navy also hosts an environmental justice section on their home page for news and information.

We are also working to preserve the contribution of African Americans in the U.S. military through the Legacy Resource Management Program. There are four projects currently under way. They are:

  • A study of the African-American community on the lands of the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station [Va.] from 1865-1918;
  • The black officer's club renovation and archival project at Fort Leonard Wood [Mo.];
  • The Civil War African-American sailors research study;
  • A report on the historic context for the African-American military experience.

These projects focus on military activities, but their significance is much larger. Through these projects, we can reconstruct history and raise awareness of the role African Americans played in the U.S. military. Author Dudley Taylor Cornish said, "American military history, by the very nature of our society and the organization of our government and of our Army, is more nearly social and political history than mere military analysis."

The executive order focuses attention on the environmental impacts on human health and the quality of life in minority and low-income populations. One of the ways we meet this requirement is through the Toxic Release Inventory. TRI details the toxic releases and waste management practices of DoD installations. In the first year, DoD's toxic releases went down 30 percent. We issued the TRI last year, and the next report is due in May. For example:

  • The Lake City Army Ammunition plant, outside of Kansas City [Mo.], underwent a 200 percent reduction of pollutants.
  • Robins Air Force Base, near Macon [Ga.], reported a 26 percent reduction.
  • Norfolk Naval Base, [Va.] reported a 60 percent reduction.
  • Norfolk purchased new equipment that uses water instead of chemicals to clean equipment and ship parts. The shipyard also replaced a number of paints that gave off fumes with lower-emission paints to greatly reduce the number of TRI chemicals emitted. The shipyard achieved significant reductions in TRI releases through its consistent use of the Consolidated Hazardous Material Reutilization and Inventory Management Program. The program, also called "Pharmacy" by the military services, limits distribution of hazardous materials to authorized users in small quantities only. Unused material is returned to collection centers for redistribution. These simple management steps greatly reduce the use of hazardous material and worker exposure to the material.

That's just the beginning. We hope to have even greater reductions as the program progresses. By using safer alternatives to certain chemicals, we can better protect communities near our installations.

As DoD downsizes, thanks to the end of the Cold War, the BRAC [base realignment and closure] program has focused on transforming former bases into viable economic and environmental assets by empowering local communities to chart their own economic futures.

In addition, many DoD installations are the last bastions for several endangered species and plants.

  • Denver is home to two very important institutions: Mayor Wellington Webb and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. A portion of the arsenal has been made into a wildlife refuge and hosts almost 300 species of wildlife. It is also one of the best examples of short-grass prairie left in the West. Fishermen cast for bass in the refuge's catch-and-release ponds, and school-children get their first close-up glimpse of a bald eagle. All of this activity on the largest cleanup project in all of DoD.
  • San Francisco -- home of Mayor Willie Brown and the Presidio -- is another closure base which is being transformed. The Army transferred the installation property to the National Park Service in 1994. While the Army is performing cleanup activities there, the Park Service is playing a key role in the management and care of this beautiful landmark. This national treasure attracts visitors from all over the world and is a valuable asset to the city.
  • DoD's Office of Economic Adjustment supports the formation and operation of local redevelopment authorities to promote economic revitalization. A successful reuse plan depends on a community's ability to form alliances that should include workers, businesses, civic leaders, local government, interest groups and traditional underrepresented populations.

The LRA's responsibility is to formulate a base redevelopment plan that reflects the community's prescription for economic recovery. The primary goal is usually job creation, balanced with the need to expand the tax base, diversify the local economy, promote environmental quality and meet affordable housing needs.

  • The Office of Economic Adjustment tracks the number of civilian jobs created and lost at 48 (out of 97) BRAC bases. Since 1993, 30,892 new jobs have been created.
  • President Clinton's five-part Community Reinvestment Plan emphasized fast-track cleanup at BRAC bases. After almost four years, we believe the program is working because DoD works in partnership with the community, the state, local government and other federal agencies to reach the mutual goal of economic reuse.

Around the same time the environmental justice executive order was issued, I directed my office to find new ways to increase minority business participation in our environmental programs. As a result, the two have become intertwined, but we didn't embark on this initiative because of a presidential directive, we did it because it was an area that we wanted to improve upon.

In 1994, I issued a memo to my counterparts in the military services encouraging them to maximize opportunities for small disadvantaged businesses in DoD contracts for environmental services. Since environmental cleanup is one of our largest programs, a small business work group was formed to improve access by small businesses to environmental cleanup opportunities.

  • An environmental cleanup homepage was established on the Internet.
  • Small businesses need exposure. For the past two years, we sponsored the Environmental Cleanup/Small Business Awards. Last year's recipients included a woman-owned business, Human Factors Application, Inc., and two minority business firms, Oarga Services, and the other, also headed by a woman, is Peer Consultants.

Finally, the statistics speak for themselves. The number of environmental contracts awarded to small businesses, small disadvantaged businesses and woman-owned businesses are all up compared to last year.

U.S. businesses received about $1.7 billion in cleanup contracts. Of that, small business received 16 percent, or $271 million; small disadvantaged business received 7.5 percent, or $128 million; and women-owned businesses received 3.5 percent, or $60 million.

(1995 Cleanup stats [statistics]: U.S. business received about $1.3 billion; small business received $194 million, or 14 percent; small disadvantaged business received $99 million, or 7.2 percent; and women-owned business received $25 million, or 1.8 percent.)

Community participation in DoD's cleanup program is key to our success. We take great care to keep the public informed and involved in environmental cleanup decisions which impact them. Restoration advisory boards are our primary outlet to foster this communication.

A RAB is a forum through which members of nearby communities can provide input to DoD's environmental cleanup program at active, closing or realigning installations and formerly used defense sites. RABs include members of the local community and representatives of the installation, the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], the state, tribal and local governments.

It is DoD policy to have a balanced and diverse representation on a RAB to reflect the diversity of interests within a community. More than 250 DoD installations are participating on a RAB. I encourage every one of you who have bases in your cities to get involved with your RAB or to work with the public affairs office on the base to determine if there is enough community interest to establish a RAB.

As a side note, DoD is developing the Technical Assistance for Public Participation program to help community members of RABs participate more effectively in the restoration program at local installations. Through TAPP, community members will have the resources to obtain objective, independent analysis of technical cleanup issues. The Congress authorized DoD to spend $6 million for the TAPP program. We plan on having a final TAPP rule completed by the end of this year. (For more information, please visit our Web site [].)

In addition to RABs, another community-based partnership is with the Naval District Washington. The National Urban Tree House is a cooperative, community-based program involving natural resources education, urban forestry, outreach and research. The program includes education and outreach programs for at-risk youth living in the Anacostia-Congress Heights neighborhood of Washington. There are five research projects in progress, focusing on human and natural environmental relationships and cooperative planning research.

I wanted to touch on the role of training and how DoD is integrating environmental justice training into our own internal community through education and outreach programs. We are in the process of developing a curriculum about environmental justice for incorporation into all DoD environmental training programs and for our senior leadership. In addition, DoD administers the Environmental Scholarship, Fellowship and Grants Program, which provides environmental education and training partnerships among public universities.

DoD is supporting environmental training to disadvantaged young adults through the Clark Atlanta University and the Minority Institution Consortium. They also offer hazardous waste training courses and degree programs in environmental sciences and engineering.

To summarize DoD's progress in implementing the executive order, we are focusing on four areas:

  • Incorporating environmental justice issues into existing policy and guidance;
  • Promoting economic opportunities in BRAC communities and small business opportunities for minority businesses;
  • Encouraging impacted communities to participate in environmental cleanup decisions that affect them; and
  • Training DoD personnel and raising their awareness of environmental justice.

Published for internal information by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission. Defense Issues is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at

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