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Vance working EMS to protect environment, save dollars

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- During the early 1990s, a growing demand on the federal government to protect the environment and the nation's scarce natural resources changed the way the U.S. military conducted its business.

In April 2000, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13148 establishing a 5-year Environmental Management System implementation goal for all federal facilities. The Air Force followed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's lead by creating a proactive, systematic approach for managing the potential environmental consequences of its operations.

Vance self-declared its EMS fully implemented December 2, 2005, and has used the program since to identify and evaluate environmental risk; organize and manage environmental responsibilities; evaluate the quality of the environment and determining how it is affected by the base's mission; and conduct a self-evaluation of the effectiveness of the EMS in achieving desired levels of environmental performance.

An EMS provides a roadmap to weave existing environmental programs and mission management processes into a consistent system to enable an organization to control the environmental impact of its activities, products and services, to improve its environmental performance continually, and to commit to sustainable development as a strategic objective, according to Natalie Stennis, CSC Environmental Branch manager.

"Vance had active, mature environmental programs with many EMS requirements in place, but these programs were individual and separate entities," Miss Stennis said. "A primary purpose of the EMS is to coordinate these activities into one integrated framework that enhances and improves the overall efficiency and effectiveness of these existing, but separate, environmental programs."

Vance's EMS provides a verifiable process to improve its regulatory compliance, promote adoption of pollution-prevention measures, and ensure continuous improvement in managing the base's impact on the environment.

"Additionally, the base will discover many opportunities to reduce wasteful uses of resources, thus saving money and otherwise enhancing our economic performance while reducing the impacts of our operations on the environment," Miss Stennis said.

The program is a high-visibility issue for Col. Richard Klumpp, Jr., 71st Flying Training Wing commander, who issued a Vance Environmental Policy Statement saying the base is committed to adhering to high standards of environmental quality, to principles of sustainable development and to providing a workplace that protects the health and safety of our employees and the communities surrounding our base.

The tenets of the wing's policy of being technically sound and cost-effective are:
  • Conduct operations in compliance with applicable federal, state and local requirements.
  • Design, construct and operate base facilities in a manner that protects our employees, individuals in the neighboring communities and the environment. 
  • Implement programs for self-monitoring, assessing and reporting to ensure compliance and continual improvement in the pursuit of our environmental goals.
  • Ensure through management support and education that employees, contractors and suppliers at VAFB understand the obligations and responsibilities required by the environmental management system. 
  • Establish and maintain operating policies, procedures and programs to implement the VAFB Environmental Protection Policy.