Tester, Walsh to Defense Dept.: Follow law, no environmental study of ICBMs
Senators respond to department attempt to circumvent federal law
(U.S. SENATE) – Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh are warning the U.S. Defense Department against ignoring federal law by moving forward with an Environmental Impact Study of the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at Malmstrom Air Force Base and nationwide.
Tester, the chairman of the Senate ICBM Coalition, led the charge in the Senate to include a provision in the recent government funding bill that blocks the Defense Department from conducting a study, which many see as a first step to reducing or eliminating the missiles.
Recent reports indicate, however, that the department may try to circumvent the law and begin a study.
“We write to make very clear our strenuous opposition to any attempt by the Department of Defense to circumvent existing law to proceed with an Environmental Impact Study or an Environmental Assessment on the elimination of Minutemen III silos,” Tester and Walsh told Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. “If the Defense Department is in fact pursuing such a course, we demand the legal justification for how it could so directly contradict recently enacted law and the repeatedly stated will of Congress.”
As a leader of the Senate ICBM Coalition, Tester has fought to maintain a strong ICBM force at Malmstrom and throughout the country. In addition to inserting the provision in the recent funding bill, he recently reinforced the importance of Montana’s ICBM fleet to new Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.
The United States’ nuclear weapons arsenal is divided into three elements: land-based missiles in silos and missiles aboard submarines and bombers. Inter-continental ballistic missiles are the most cost-effective leg of the triad because they cost less to maintain.
Tester and Walsh’s letter to Defense Secretary Hagel is available below.