Senator Ken Salazar has submitted a letter to the Military and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee asking for another year to review the Army’s plans to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site.
Last year, Salazar established the current one-year moratorium to give surrounding communities time to provide input into the Army's proposal. This was also done to give time for the Army to report on its need to expand.
Finally, the plan ensured that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have enough time to review the report. This review process is expected to last into 2009.
The Subcommittee is expected to review the 2009 Military and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act on Wednesday, July 16.
The entire letter written to Senator Tim Johnson was submitted as follows:
July 11, 2008
Senator Tim Johnson, Chairman
Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
119 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Johnson:
Last year, I amended the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act of 2008 to place a one-year moratorium on the Army's proposed plan to expand the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site in southeast Colorado by 435,000 acres. The purpose of the amendment was to provide time for Congress and residents of southeast Colorado to receive much-needed information from the Army on its expansion plans so that we can adequately evaluate it, its impacts on the area, and its effects on the region's farming and ranching heritage.
To ensure that the Army provides the public and Congress the information we need, I also added an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008. This amendment required the Army to provide a detailed report on its plans, the need for the expansion, and the possible effects of its plan. That report has not yet been completed and is due at the end of July. Once the Army's report has been finalized, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will have up to180 days to review the report's findings and the public will have 90 days to comment. This process will extend into the next fiscal year and likely the next calendar year.
Until these reports are complete and the local communities and Congress have had time to review them and decide how to proceed, the moratorium on expansion of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site should remain in place. I therefore respectfully request that you extend the moratorium on the Pinon Canyon expansion through 2009 by including the following language in the Subcommittee's mark of the bill:
"None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this title may be used for any action that is related to or promotes the expansion of the boundaries or size of the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, Colorado."
This language is of utmost importance to protecting the livelihoods of farmers in ranchers in southeastern Colorado and to upholding the thoughtful and reasonable process Congress has created for the Army to justify its stated requirement for additional training land. The House of Representatives continues to support this moratorium as well, approving similar language on the floor last year and incorporating identical language into the subcommittee mark this year.