Coast Guard Indefinitely Suspends Great Lakes Live Fire Exercises

WASHINGTON–U.S. Coast Guard live fire exercises on the Great Lakes will be suspended indefinitely and the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), under which the exercises were conducted, will be withdrawn pursuant to an order by Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, according to Congressman James L. Oberstar and Congressman Dave Obey.

“The decision was announced this morning in a telephone call that Congressman Obey and I had with Admiral Allen, who was dissatisfied with the process by which the Coast Guard undertook this activity, and which was initiated before he became Commandant. After a review of the transcripts of several public field hearings, including ours in Duluth, Admiral Allen told me the only option was to withdraw the NPRM and reevaluate all the factors that went into the decision to undertake live fire exercises,” said Oberstar. “I commend Admiral Allen for making a hard decision, making a clean break with the past, and launching a new and transparent project.”

“I’m glad the Coast Guard has recognized the concerns expressed by Congressman Oberstar, Congressman Stupak and myself about the live fire exercises on the Great Lakes,” Obey added. “We understand the need of the Coast Guard to be in a top state of readiness, but they must respect the public’s concern for safety and the environment. I hope that by taking a step back, the Coast Guard will be able to move forward with an alternative that will allow them the training they need and satisfy the public’s concerns.”

Commandant Allen also said that one of the significant factors to be considered will be finding a replacement for the lead shot used in the live fire exercises.

“The Coast Guard is clearly sensitive to environmental concerns of the lead deposited in the waters of the Great Lakes and will explore alternative materials to be used in any future training exercises,” Oberstar concluded.

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