Barnstable County Opposes Additional Funds for Joint Base Gun Range

Potential location for the Joint Base machine gun range. Town of Barnstable

BOURNE – Barnstable County Commissioners are urging lawmakers to oppose further federal appropriations for the proposed machine gun range at Joint Base Cape Cod.

The project has reportedly faced a funding shortfall of over $6 million dollars, and county officials have sent a letter to Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, as well as Congressman Bill Keating, to halt any potential further funding.

Opponents of the project have expressed concern that the range could contaminate the Upper Cape Water Supply Reserve, the Cape’s sole source aquifer.

Base officials have said that an on-site range would reduce time and costs for required training, and that it would not significantly impact the surrounding environment.

County officials say that the environmental review process was flawed and lacked full analysis of alternatives.

The following is the full statement regarding the proposed range and letter from County Commissioners:

In a further effort to safeguard the Upper Cape Water Supply Reserve, the Barnstable County Commissioners are opposed to further federal appropriations for the proposed Multipurpose Machine Gun Range (MPMGR).

Recent news reports suggest a funding shortfall for the project exceeding six million dollars.  In a letter to U.S. Senators Warren and Markey, and Congressman Bill Keating, the Board urged the lawmakers to oppose any further federal Defense or Military Construction appropriations for the proposed machine gun range on the Upper Cape Water Supply Reserve.

Situated over the Reserve and the Sagamore Lens, the Machine Gun Range, as assessed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), could lead to a four-fold increase in ammunition and associated contaminants deposited on the ground above the aquifer, raising the risk of groundwater pollution and contamination Cape Cod’s drinking water.

“The EPA has made it quite clear that the project has the potential to contaminate the aquifer and would create a significant public health hazard,” the letter states.

Additionally, the letter highlights the flawed environmental review process undertaken by the Massachusetts Army National Guard.  According to legal analysis provided by the County’s special counsel, the review failed to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and lacked a proper analysis of alternatives.  Furthermore, the Guard did not propose meaningful mitigation measures to prevent adverse impacts on the aquifer, which has already suffered significant damage from decades of military training and operations.

About Grady Culhane

Grady Culhane is a Cape Cod native from Eastham. He studied media communications at Cape Cod Community College and joined the News Center in 2019.
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