Green Peace? Protecting Our National Treasures While Providing for Our National Security
Marcilynn A. Burke
University of Houston Law Center
May 1, 2008
William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, Vol. 32, p. 803, 2008
In the wake of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Department of Defense ("DoD") convinced Congress that compliance with environmental and natural resource laws hampered the Armed Forces' readiness for combat by limiting use of its training ranges. This Article evaluates whether Congress's post-9/11 exemptions to three important natural resource laws are inefficient, unjust, and/or unwise by examining the effects these laws have had on national security and their real impacts on the natural world. The significance of these exemptions is reflected by the magnitude of the military's land holdings -- over 32 million acres providing habitat for 300 species listed under the Endangered Species Act. Given the potential impacts, DoD has not demonstrated that the exemptions are necessary or appropriate under the current circumstances, and, in fact, evidence suggests they have been harmful. Application of the precautionary principle exhorts that decisionmakers should protect these resources even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established. Abandoning protection of the country's natural resources, treasures that make this country worth defending, in the name of national security deserves greater thought and study, particularly given the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Navy sonar case and the Marine Corps' request to expand its bombing and training range in the Mojave Desert.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 73
Keywords: natural resources, exemptions, environmental, defense, military, readiness, migratory bird, endangered species, marine mammal, navy, sonar, encroachment, RRPI
JEL Classification: K32, K23, K10, Q2, Q24, Q25, Q28Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: December 19, 2008
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