AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE NATIONAL TOXIC LAND/LABOR CONSERVATION SERVICE?
Whereas nearly the entire United States was drawn into an assembly line for making nuclear weapons, with more than 300 sites nationwide involved in mining, milling, refining, and enriching uranium, making plutonium and bomb parts, and bomb assembly, research and development, and testing;
Whereas the post-Cold War period has revealed the many hidden sacrifices demanded of people and the land in the name of national security, including environmental devastation of an unprecedented magnitude; secret human experiments; radioactive atmospheric fallout; national sacrifice zones for the making and testing of nuclear weapons; and the ever-lingering problem of nuclear waste disposal;
Whereas the unwitting risks experienced by and sacrifices demanded of people due to United States military activity disproportionately affected rural, poor, native, and other minority groups, as well as workers within the nuclear industry itself;
Whereas the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Defense (DOD) have undergone neoliberal restructuring, with the environmental threats generated historically by former DOD military arsenals, DOE nuclear facilities, and the United States’s industrial warfare economy more generally, contributing to the downsizing, remediation, and transfer of land from the DOE and DOD to the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to administer;
Whereas the subsequent effect of these conversions too often involves evacuating the natural histories and human lives that existed prior to, during, and after military-industrial production for the purposes of nostalgic ecological reconstructions, thereby obscuring the profound and ongoing material transformations of such sites and the legacies of injustice, deceit, irresponsibility, unaccountability, ongoing colonial occupation, disaster and domination;
Whereas the DOE and DOD now claim responsibility for protecting human and ecological health through long-term surveillance and maintenance at decommissioned and remediated sites, yet are trying to evade the long-term costs and risks associated with operating, monitoring, and managing those decommissioned sites under their management in perpetuity;
Whereas the DOE has explicitly identified environmental justice goals as part of its mission of managing the legacy of the environmental impact of over 100 sites within the estimated 3,300 square miles of continental landmass comprising the U.S. nuclear landscape;
Whereas innovative grassroots movements are responding creatively to the failure of the DOE and DOD to adequately address environmental justice, occupational health, cultural memory, and human rights issues in its long-term land stewardship practices;
Whereas the Department of the Interior, long derided as the “Department of Everything Else,” is uniquely suited to address the many people, lands, and stories similarly remaindered by the United States military programs;
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA THAT THERE IS HEREBY CREATED IN THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR THE NATIONAL TOXIC LAND/LABOR CONSERVATION SERVICE, HEREAFTER KNOWN AS THE NATIONAL TLC SERVICE.
SEC. 1 MANDATE
The National TLC Service is hereby charged to develop cultural programs that address issues of environmental justice, labor, and human rights related to US military activities. It is expected that these programs will be undertaken in collaboration with the grassroots organizations and affected individuals already involved in contesting and reforming the DOE, DOD, and DOI’s land and legacy stewardship practices. This mandate includes, but is not limited to:
1.1 Exploring and establishing creative and collaborative methodologies of broad wishful thinking regarding the National TLC Service’s mandate, by drawing on the knowledge and practices of artists, environmentalists, activists, nuclear workers, native communities, scholars of the bomb, and more;
1.2 Developing vital cultural institutions that bring together the myriad constituencies affected by national military catastrophe to collectively explore the new forms of subjectivity and community forged in the face of uncanny hyper-materials such as plutonium and radioactive waste;
1.3 Coordinating and providing resources for the conception, design, and installation of monuments, museums, national heritage landscapes, and other markers concerning the cultural and environmental legacy of the US nuclear state, and producing interpretive programming at former military sites transferred to the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and at other national sacrifice zones more generally;
1.4 Imagining new forms of outreach and projects that will fund and provide fair and adequate health services, environmental stewardship, and networks of care between humans and nonhumans for the myriad life-altering and life-threatening conditions caused by exposure to large quantities of toxic and radioactive employed by the United States military.
SEC. 2 FIELDS OF EXPERTISE
Given the unprecedented scope and duration of the national military catastrophe, the expertise required to direct the mission of the National TLC Service cannot be supplied by any one person. Accordingly, this Act stipulates that the National TLC Service be co-directed by a group of three individuals, to be appointed according to the following fields of expertise:
2.1 Public Scholar in the Humanities
The humanities contain a wide array of scholarly disciplines that lagged behind, existed on the fringes of, or pointedly criticized the mass instrumentalization and militarization of human knowledge that marked the 20th and early 21st centuries. As such, they represent one location for resistance to the crude technocratic solutions that often mark the institutional and governmental response to the conditions of national sacrifice zones and the physical, cultural, and emotional needs of downwind/downstream populations.
2.2 Visual, Performing, or Conceptual Artist
The awareness of the affective, aesthetic, and political dimensions of form required by the National TLC Service’s mandate is presently found most prominently in the practice of contemporary artists. Furthermore, a traditional training in creative problem-solving and an increasing emphasis on collaboration in the education of artists directly reinforces the mandate described in Section 1.1 of this Act.
2.3 Environmental Justice Activist
The environmental justice movement has long recognized the complex interconnections between ecological damage and social, economic, cultural, and human rights issues. Because grassroots groups have already responded to the conditions addressed by the Act, fulfillment of the mandate of the National TLC Service requires participation from affected people and at the very highest levels.
SEC. 3 RECOMMENDED ACTIONS AND OUTCOMES DURING AGENCY’S FIRST TERM
Upon adoption of this Act, the following recommended actions shall be undertaken immediately:
3.1 Public Communications
The National TLC Service must produce and regularly update quality communications to educate and inform the public concerning its mandate and programs. Such materials include, but are not limited to a logo, website, fact sheet or brochure, and annual report.
3.2 Site-specific, collaborative, ephemeral cultural programs
3.2.1 An annual national ball for former nuclear workers and downwind/downstream populations, to be MC-ed by Denver-based radioactive drag queen comedienne NuClia Waste (http://www.nucliawaste.com);
3.2.2 A program to assist people and their descendants in adopting and ensuring the safety and well-being of orphaned plutonium-239, an uncanny element that will be dangerous to current forms of life for as long as 240,000 years;
3.2.3 A digital archive of nuclear humor, chronicling the inventive ways that 20th and 21st century people laughed in the face of mutation.?3.3 National Cold War Memory Project
3.3.1 An impossible monument to human radiation testing on or near the National Mall in Washington D.C.;
3.3.2 The National Cold War Environmental Heritage Trail and Visitor Centers, connecting the Pentagon, major military contractors, military-to-wildlife conversions, nuclear waste holding areas, impacted native lands, community and health centers for downwind/downstream populations, and other national sacrifice zones.
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