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Rep. Keating Calls for Closer Look at Proposed Machine Gun Range

Massachusetts Army National Guard
The red outline on this map of Camp Edwards shows where the Army National Guard is proposing an eight-lane machine gun range. The surface danger zone, where projectiles could land, is highlighted in pink.

U.S. Rep. Bill Keating is calling for more scrutiny to be applied to the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s proposal to build a machine gun range on Joint Base Cape Cod.

“We’re going to request jointly a review on a federal environmental impact study to see if there is something that was missed at the state level,” said Keating, a Democrat who represents Massachusetts’ Ninth Congressional District.

In August, the Massachusetts Army National Guard released an Environmental Assessment for the proposed machine gun range, which found it would have “no significant impact” on the environment.

But environmental activists — and now the congressman who represents Cape Cod -- have challenged that finding over concerns that the range would require the clearcutting of 170 acres of trees and would be placed over the sole drinking water source for Upper Cape towns.

Initially, Keating said, he tried to find avenues to increase oversight for the project, which is nine years in the making, through his role on the House Armed Services Committee.

“I looked in the Armed Services Committee with the top person in charge of administration there to see if they could deal with it,” he said. “They didn’t come up too strong with alternatives.”

Now, Keating and other members of the Massachusetts delegation are sending a letter to the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., asking for a much more detailed environmental evaluation.

If the National Guard Bureau agrees to produce a full Environmental Impact Statement, that process could slow down the project for years, and likely elicit many more public meetings, which environmentalists have been seeking since August.

The letter is expected to be signed by other members of the delegation and released later this week.

“We’re going to see if we can request something that perhaps can have greater scrutiny,” Keating added.

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.