January 2, 2014
By Pat Host
Eight senators in mid-December asked the Defense Department to not fund an environmental assessment related to active Minuteman III ICBM silos until after Congress completes fiscal year 2014 appropriations legislation.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and comptroller Robert Hale, the senators said the Pentagon initially requested funding for an environmental impact study on Minuteman III silos in its FY ’14 budget request. The joint explanatory statement for the compromise FY ’14 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed by President Barack Obama in late December said a provision in the NDAA authorizes the use of FY ’14 funds for the purpose of preparing to implement reductions in nuclear forces necessary to meet the levels required by the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), subject to additional limitations.
The provision includes a subsection that limits the amount spent for an environmental assessment for any proposed reduction in ICBM silos to 50 percent, subject to Congress receiving the nuclear force structure plan required by the FY ’12 NDAA, which the joint explanatory statement said is almost two years late.
The senators said in their letter Congress’ final response to the Pentagon budget request will come through the FY ’14 appropriations process. Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) all signed the letter.
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