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Environmental Managers Conference

Environmental Managers Conference
Department of the Navy
November 29, 1994
Becky Norton Dunlop

Good afternoon and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. Let me begin by saying that the defense of our nation is the single most important mission of the Federal Government.

Recently, Governor Allen selected me to serve as Co-Chair on a newly created Commission on self-determination and Federalism. As a commission dedicated to the cause of constitutional liberty, much like yourselves, we will strive to examine the question of the proper role of the Federal Government as provided for in the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Those of you working here in Virginia might know that there are many areas where the Governor and I have determined that the federal government should not have a strong role. The authority for many federal programs should be turned back to the states. I am not, of course, referring to defense programs. I should say, however, that I do have some concerns. As a citizen, I’m concerned that federal officials have not given our national defense the appropriate level of priority.

As members of the military, your task is noble, but the method by which it is accomplished is also important. Determining methods of military operation that serve the cause of national defense and limit adverse environmental impacts is a subject that deserves discussion, and that is what brings me here today. The exchange of ideas that will occur during the rest of this conference and in other venues will play an important role in the future of the United States and of the world in more ways than one.

One great advantage of operations as large as those of the Navy and Marine Corps is that they provide an ideal laboratory for the study of innovative solutions to problems that exist in the civilian arena as well. Because many military bases are like small cities with a mix of residential, commercial and industrial areas, they make ideal community study sites. The military has made good faith efforts to raise the standard for the rest of our citizens when it comes to finding solutions to environmental problems that you face.

The military installations in the Tidewater area of Virginia are indeed leaders in environmental matters. The Tidewater Interagency Pollution Prevention Project (TIPPP) is a regional effort to address environmental challenges in this region. This project integrates individual programs into regionally focused initiatives. The results of this unique program, one of only a few in the country, have been substantial. The risks to the Chesapeake Bay have been reduced while costs associated with waste management have gone down for several of the participating facilities.

By taking part in TIPPP, the facilities involved have been able to dramatically reduce the amount of waste they generate. The amount of hazardous waste disposed of by Norfolk Naval Base, for example, dropped from 960,000 tons in 1991 to 340,000 tons in 1993. NASA Langley cut its waste generation in half in just one year. These are the kind of results that make a difference, and the kind of results that should be encouraged.

As Secretary of Natural Resources for the Commonwealth of Virginia, I have a set of principles upon which public policy is based in my secretariat. I find them to be indispensable in the administration of the Department of Natural Resources and I hope you will use them in your own work.

Principle One : People are America’s greatest natural resource. The enhancement of our natural resources is dependent on the good stewardship of the citizens of this country. Clean air and water are not to be taken for granted. They must be treated with the respect and care that their inherent value requires. Most people appreciate that fact, and are inclined to do their part in caring for our vast natural resources. In government, it is our role to see that the regulatory structure empowers good stewards of our environment, promotes innovation, advances sound science, and encourages the practice of sound conservation methods.

Principle Two : Personnel is policy. It has an obvious tie to the first. Governor Allen and I place a high value on the contributions of individuals inside state and federal government as well as private citizens. We are working hard to make the best use of the diverse talents of the dedicated professionals in our natural resource agencies, in our colleges and universities, and in the private sector. Groups and individuals have an important contribution to make in the process of finding the best solutions to our problems. I always cherish the opportunity to hear the advice and expertise that thoughtful, solution oriented individuals and groups have to offer. Those people closest to the problem are the best prepared to deal with it.

Principle Three : A growing economy and an improving environment are mutually dependent. Without economic growth and technological advancement, there are insufficient resources to meet both the increasing demand of the public for goods and services and the requirement of environmental stewardship. The Governor and I formulate public policy on the basis of this principle. Private property rights and responsibilities, the incentives of the marketplace, and the free enterprise system offer the greatest new prospects for improving the environment.

Newport News Shipbuilding and the Norfolk Naval Base are proving this principle to be true once again. The development of a maintenance and process re-engineering program called the

Maintenance Engineering Solution has yielded outstanding results. This process applies cutting edge technologies, such as interactive video and technical documentation and imaging to improve maintenance processes and cut industrial maintenance costs by 15 percent. Annual costs of industrial maintenance now exceed $600 billion annually. Cost/benefit analysis shows that investment payback can be realized within 18 months of implementation.

Principle Four : Renewable natural resources are inherently dynamic, resilient, and responsive to conservation management. The science of conservation management allows us to improve the quality and condition of our natural resources. Sound science must be the basis of our decision making in natural resources. We don’t have to go far from this building to see the vast improvements that have been made in the health of the Chesapeake Bay. There is much more to be done to be sure, but our progress so far is evident. And the military has been a major factor in that effort.

Principle Five : Excessive government regulations are injurious to the environment. People and states have a responsibility to collaborate to challenge excessive and perverse regulations. We must devise ways to ensure that the advancement of the art and science of natural resource management are not thwarted by the burden of government regulation.

The area of natural resources is in the very vortex of this issue. You might even say we are a magnet for unfunded federal mandates and bureaucratic red tape. The interpretation of the provisions of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, for example, are galvanizing the states to stand up against federal one-size fits all dictates. The lawful acts of Congress require that the states undertake efforts to accomplish reductions in air pollution. Agencies of the federal government -contrary to the principles of Federalism that I mentioned briefly in the beginning of my remarks- are insisting that we impose mandates on our people and local governments that are not cost effective. We in Virginia believe these mandates to be wrongheaded.

The Commonwealth of Virginia is engaged in a continuing struggle with EPA over the proposed enhanced inspection and maintenance program. Many of you may be following this contentious issue. If not in the Commonwealth, then perhaps in one of the many other states currently engaged in this same struggle. The contention surrounding this issue is not about the relative merits of clean air. We all want improvements in air quality. What this and many other issues are really about is the liberty for both states and individuals to devise solutions to their own problems.

The Founding Fathers envisioned a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. With power derived from the people, Governor Allen and I believe that a centralized, distant government cannot achieve that end. Those goals are best accomplished at the State and local levels, where elected officials, sensitive to the diverse needs of their constituents, can accommodate those needs in a customized fashion.

As George Washington said in his farewell address, “Government is like fire. It can be a helpful servant or a fearful master.”

I want to close by urging you all to consider the positive example you can set in your work, by forging ahead with innovative technology, developing partnerships with the private sector, promoting the advancement of science and practicing sound conservation methods. Thank you.