Bipartisan bill would add critical safety, security, and planning buffers to White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) continued his effort to create buffer zones for White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss to preserve their critical missions. Senator Heinrich, along with Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and John Cornyn (R-TX), introduced the bipartisan proposal earlier this year that represents a three-party agreement between the two military installations and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
"This bill allows for land transfers and withdrawals that will add critical safety, security, and planning buffers to White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss, and it will play an integral role in accomplishing their national security missions," said Senator Heinrich in the subcommittee hearing. "This is an important bill for southern New Mexico, and frankly an important bill for our national security."
Appearing as a witness before the committee, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy, and the Environment Katherine G. Hammack opened by thanking Senator Heinrich for his "support of the Army and the important training mission there."
When Heinrich asked Assistant Secretary Hammack about the importance of completing all three parts of the agreement at once as opposed to a more piecemeal approach, she answered, "It preserves the security mission ... still reserves the lands for use by missions that are not conflicted, [such as] wildlife sustainment ... Binding these all together, they all have the same reason -- it's a buffer that we need for the military."
Executing each part of this agreement through legislation at the same time will help facilitate the important work done by the military and NASA at White Sands Missile Range and Fort Bliss, and will provide a comprehensive and enduring buffer for the their total mission set in Doña Ana County.
This bill would:
A list of witnesses who testified in today's Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining hearing can be viewed here.