The proposed multipurpose machine gun range at Joint Base Cape Cod continues to be a controversial issue. Citing military necessity, some endorse the project, while others call for additional environmental studies or outright suspension of the project.
Falmouth Select’s board of directors last Thursday hosted a public forum to continue the debate, which included presentations from the Massachusetts National Guard, 350 Cape Cod and other environmental activists and public comment.
In an important development ahead of the forum, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency announced on August 14 that it will review the proposed machine gun lineup and the potential risks it could pose to public drinking water.
Base officials say the beach is essential for training and has obtained key approvals
The Massachusetts Army National Guard’s presentation focused on the necessity of the range, the regulations the base had to adhere to as part of their process, and their commitment to environmental conservation.
The National Guard says the $ 11.5 million machine gun lineup is needed for weapons training, regulatory requirements and habitat management.
Major Alex McDonough said soldiers must complete basic and job-specific training events to meet training requirements and be eligible for promotions.
Phase 1 of the proposed construction would require the clearing of 108 acres of land – 30 existing acres will also be used.
McDonough said the project had received a permit from the National Program for Natural Heritage and Endangered Species, a certificate from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs – stating that the project complied with the Law on Massachusetts Environmental Policy – and concluded that there was no significant impact as part of the process of compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. A review by the National Guard Bureau and the Department of the Army also led to findings of no significant impact.
Jake McCumber, program director of natural resources and land training for the Massachusetts National Guard, spoke about the conservation requirements for the machine gun range.
He also spoke about the greenhouse gas analysis carried out as part of the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act process, which found that carbon emissions and discharges from deforestation would be mitigated through land conservation, management forestry and range-specific activities.
Col. Matthew Porter said small arms firing ranges do not contaminate groundwater and the firing range is necessary for the military and National Guard. He said he knew there was a history of contamination at the base, but the base had worked hard to resolve this issue.
350 Cape Cod: Concerns about drinking water, pollution
Rosemary Carey of 350 Cape Cod said her group is calling for the project to be suspended until an independent environmental impact assessment is completed. She said the common base is the largest parcel of land in Cape Town that is undisturbed.
Carey said things were missing from the conversation on the range, including the towns of Mashpee, Falmouth, Bourne, Barnstable and Yarmouth receiving potable water from a single-source aquifer called Sagamore Lens .
She also said Joint Base Cape Cod was designated a SuperFund site in 1989, costing taxpayers nearly $ 1.5 billion.
She said the main concerns of Cape Cod 350 are: water quality, air and soil contamination, climate impacts, habitat protection, noise pollution / health impacts, socio-economic and cultural impacts and lack of necessity.
Mon Cochran, vice president of the Cape Cod Climate Change Collaborative, said carbon emissions from cutting down trees were underestimated, as were the negative effects on habitat and noise issues.
Activist Ella Sampou has asked Falmouth Select’s board of directors for two things: requesting that an environmental impact study be conducted and the project suspended, and a letter of opposition sent to Governor Charlie Baker.
“Hyper-ventilation” by environmental extremists
Some of the public commentators said they were concerned about the security of the water supply and the environmental impacts of the range, while others vehemently supported the range.
Adam Lange, of Brewster, said environmental extremists were “hyper-ventilated” and that what was being built was a firing range at a military installation, not a nuclear power plant on Cape Cod Bay.
Another speaker said she supported the shooting range so the military could continue to protect citizens.
Tom Weaver asked why the military couldn’t just use simulations for training.
Another woman, who did not give her name, said she believed a chain could be built somewhere else, not over an aquifer.
What’s next for Falmouth Select Board?
Douglas Brown, chairman of the Falmouth Select Board, said while many of his questions have been adequately answered, he still has others, particularly about the EPA’s aquifer review.
Brown said the Select Board will be collecting public comment over the next two weeks and, at its Sept. 13 meeting, either vote on the project’s recommendation or decide it needs more time for the project. examine.
“I’m still sitting with the information from both presentations,” said Nancy Taylor, vice chair of the Falmouth Select Board. Taylor also said she hopes people who did not attend the forum will watch it. It can be viewed here: fctv.org/v3/vod/joint-base-cape-cod-machine-gun-range-forum-august-26-2021
Contact Asad Jung at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @asadung