Politicians express concerns about Cape machine gun range

BOURNE, Mass. (AP) — Both U.S. senators from Massachusetts and the congressman who represents Cape Cod are expressing concerns about potential environmental effects from a machine gun training range planned for a National Guard base in the region.

The range at Camp Edwards on Joint Base Cape Cod has received clearance under both federal and state environmental policy, but some neighbors have brought their concerns to Congress, according to a report Thursday in the Cape Cod Times.

“We believe in the mission of the Guard, and we also agree with our constituents that our state & federal government has an obligation to take all possible care in determining any potential impacts that the construction of this range may incur — even if that means going above and beyond what is required by the statute,” the letter to Massachusetts Army National Guard dated last week said.

It was signed by U.S. Sens. Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. William Keating, all Democrats.

Joint Base Cape Cod sits atop the sole aquifer on Cape Cod, and there have been prior environmental issues with the base, the letter said. Previous problems have been addressed through cooperation between the base, local officials and environmental groups, the letter said.

“That collaboration must continue to ensure that the greater Cape Cod community continues to support the base,” the letter said.

Base representatives said stringent measures have been taken to ensure the range is environmentally safe.

“Not only are we training here, but most of us live around here and don’t want to contaminate the environment or the drinking water,” Maj. Alexander McDonough told the newspaper.

The range has been in the works since 2015. Although the proposal calls for clearing 170 acres (69 hectares) of forest for the range, about 5,000 acres (2,023 hectares) are needed to accommodate the operation, including the area where projectiles could land.

The range would be used for training and weapons qualification. Currently, National Guard members have to travel long distances to train on a machine gun range.