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For Immediate Release: Apr 09, 2001
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

WHISTLEBLOWER SETTLEMENT AT LUKE AFB

Environmental Issues Still Being Litigated


Phoenix, AZ - The US Air Force (USAF) today reached a settlement agreement of a whistleblower complaint filed by the former natural resources manager at Luke Air Force Base (AFB). That manager, Bruce Eilerts, had been terminated by the Air Force for insubordination and unauthorized use of a fax machine and computer in filing complaints concerning environmental violations at Luke AFB and the Barry M. Goldwater Training Range. Eilerts was represented by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a national organization representing state, federal and local agency environmental specialists.

"While the terms of the agreement remain confidential, I am very happy about this resolution," stated Eilerts, who is now working as Assistant Director for the Center for Biological Diversity in Tucson. "Unfortunately, the issues of accountability and responsible resource management at Luke are beyond the scope of my employment case."

The issues raised by Eilerts figured prominently in a federal court order in February against USAF and other federal agencies concerning management of the pronghorn in the Sonoran Desert. The court order resulted from a lawsuit brought by Defenders of Wildlife which challenged military training exercises that were having harmful impacts on protected wildlife.

A number of Eilerts's co-workers at Luke filed supporting affidavits on his behalf. Virtually all of the officers who figured prominently in the Eilerts case have been re-assigned or have retired from USAF.

"The military must learn that civilians who report misconduct cannot be taken out and summarily shot," stated PEER General Counsel Dan Meyer, who himself had been a whistleblower in the military, exposing the Navy cover-up of the causes of an explosion on the battleship USS Iowa, which resulted in that service's largest loss of life in peacetime. "PEER will continue to work with Bruce Eilerts and his colleagues to monitor the military's execution of its mandated stewardship responsibilities."