We asked and you responded. At last count over 350 emails have been sent to Senators Warren and Markey and Congressman Keating calling upon them to oppose the proposed Machine Gun Range. The Guard Bureau’s proposed Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) ignores the impact of almost 200 acres of forest clear cut, the climate impacts of that loss of forest and potential jeopardy to the water supply for the Upper Cape. Perhaps in response to all the attention that the project has generated, Senators Warren and Markey and Congressman Keating did issue a letter to the Guard Bureau.
The letter did not take a clear position on the proposed project, instead asking the Guard to both consider preparation of an additional environmental impact statement and to give consideration to the concerns expressed by the public on the climate and water supply impacts of the project (a clear indication that Congress can see that these concerns have been ignored). Even though not as definitive as it should have been, this letter is further indication of the broad recognition that the proposal does not meet the standards of compatibility with the protection of the water supply required for the project to proceed.
The ball is in the court of the National Guard Bureau. They can do the right thing for Cape Cod or they can follow through on their stated intent to issue the FONSI. In anticipation that the Guard will continue to do what they have stated, to pursue this project with no meaningful mitigation or protections, our focus will shift to the next step in the approval process. The Massachusetts Environmental Management Commission (EMC) will be asked to approve this project. Taken verbatim from the Guard Bureau’s own website, what follows describes the EMC in words better than we can paraphrase:
The Environmental Management Commission (EMC) ensures the permanent protection of the drinking water supply and wildlife habitat of the Upper Cape Water Supply Reserve (the Reserve). The Reserve is 15,000 acres comprising the northern training area of Camp Edwards, the major training area for the Army National Guard Soldiers in the Northeast. The northern 15,000 acres of Joint Base Cape Cod is the largest piece of undeveloped land on Cape Cod and is home to 37 state-listed species. The Camp Edwards Training Area sits atop an aquifer that is a source of drinking water for Upper Cape Cod.
The EMC is comprised of the commissioners of the Department of Fish and Game, the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Its authority comes from Massachusetts Chapter 47 of the Acts of 2002 and a Memorandum of Agreement signed in 2001.
When the time is right, and the issue is before the EMC, APCC will provide our members with guidance on what actions to take to ensure that the EMC is fully aware of what Cape residents think is at stake. In the meantime, I am grateful that we have a group like the EMC with the power to protect our environment.