Tester, Walsh: Pentagon to halt environmental study of ICBMs

Defense Department heeds warnings from Senators to follow law

(U.S. SENATE) – Following Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh’s warnings against ignoring federal law, the Defense Department is suspending its Environmental Assessment on the elimination of the intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at Malmstrom Air Force Base and nationwide.

Tester recently included a provision in a government funding bill that blocks the Defense Department from conducting an environmental study, which many consider the first step to eliminating the missiles. Despite that law, the department had planned to move forward with its study.

The Senators, joined by John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), recently told Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to follow the law and stop the study. At the Senators’ urging, that study is now suspended as officials look into whether they can legally proceed.

“The law is clear: there should be no study to reduce our ICBMs,” said Tester, co-chairman of the Senate ICBM Coalition. “With recent unrest across the globe, America’s military – and Malmstrom’s Airmen – need to be at their strongest, and our ICBM force provides that cost-effective strength.”

“At a time of rising instability in eastern Europe and parts of Asia, our nuclear deterrent is even more important,” Walsh said. “ICBMs remain the most cost-effective part of our nuclear defense and Malmstom remains a vital part of keeping America safe.”

Tester has fought to maintain a strong ICBM force at Malmstrom and throughout the country. In addition to inserting the provision on the recent funding bill, he reinforced the importance of Montana’s ICBM fleet to new Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.