Senate ICBM Coalition, Missile Supporters to Hagel: No Environmental Study

Hoeven Measure Withholds ICBM Study Funding in DoD Approps Bill


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Hoeven and the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan ICBM Coalition said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel needs to back away from a Defense Department plan to conduct an Environmental Impact Study on the possible elimination of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) silos.

The Coalition’s letter argued that the Defense Department and the Air Force need to determine how many submarine-launched missiles, bombers and land-based missiles it wants under New START before conducting any study related to eliminating ICBM silos.

“Our letter makes it clear that environmental studies should not dictate our nuclear force posture,” Hoeven said. “That is why I included language in the 2014 Defense Appropriations bill that prohibits funding for this study.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee agreed to an amendment authored by Senator Hoeven that would prohibit the Defense Department from funding a silo-related environmental impact study in 2014. The Committee approved that legislation on August 1, 2013, and it awaits consideration on the Senate floor. The House of Representatives approved a similar provision in its version of the 2014 defense appropriations bill.

The Senators called the Defense Department’s plan ‘premature’ given that the Administration has not finished its implementation plan for the New START Treaty. They also note that pending legislation in both the Senate and the House of Representatives prohibits the department from moving forward on such an environmental study with Fiscal Year 2014 funds.

The Senators also called on the Administration to consult with Congress before implementing New START changes.

The United States’ nuclear weapons arsenal is divided into three elements: land-based missiles in silos (ICBMs) and missiles aboard submarines and bombers. ICBMs are the most cost-effective leg of the triad because they cost less to maintain.

The United States currently has 450 ICBMs, located in states across the American West.

The bipartisan Senate ICBM Coalition also includes Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo), Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), and Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.). Also joining the letter are Senators Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

The Senators’ full letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is available online HERE.