The National TLC Service was formally adopted by wishful action of the government of the United States effective May 1, 2011. The full text of the law is included below.
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE NATIONAL TOXIC LAND/LABOR CONSERVATION SERVICE
Whereas nearly the entire United States was historically and geographically drawn into an assembly line for making nuclear weapons, with more than 300 sites nationwide involved in mining, milling, refining, and enriching uranium, making and machining plutonium and bomb parts, special materials handling centers, assembly, research and development, as well as testing grounds;
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 plutonium 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 an estimated 600,000 workers associated with these historic and current activities experience occupational illnesses and premature death due to exposures to radioactive and toxic materials while working in the factories and laboratories of the atomic bomb complex, often without governmental recognition of its responsibility for their illnesses and inadequate resources to care for their health;
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 as part of the U.S. national wildlife refuge system—referred to as military-to-wildlife, warfare-to-wildlife, bombs-to-birds, or “M2W” conversions;
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 greening of the DOE and DOD continues apace, in spite of these organizations’ leading role in worldwide ecological damage, with the DOE spearheading an “Environmental Sustainability Program” at contaminated sites and waste-reduction targets directed at its own organizational operations, and with the Pentagon, in partnership with private industry, now touted the ecological steward of twenty-five million acres of public land with 100,000 archaeological sites and 300 listed or candidate endangered species;
Whereas these and other military sustainability programs demonstrate the greenwashing of the environmental havoc caused by the DOD’s, DOE’s, and their military contracters’ own activities, which fueled a multi-billion-dollar remediation industry and a new DOE and DOD mission of biodiversity protection and environmental security as organizing principles of military-industrial policy, budgets, and research infrastructures;
Whereas the DOE and DOD now claim responsibility for protecting human and ecological health through effective and efficient long-term surveillance and maintenance at decommissioned and remediated sites (arsenals, nuclear facilities, testing sites, etc), 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 involving former workers, environmentalists, minority, native, and downwind/downstream populations, academics, and artists 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 nuclear 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 DEFINITIONS
As used in this act, unless the context otherwise indicates, the following terms have the following meanings:
1. That “National TLC Service” shall mean the National Toxic Land/Labor Service;
2. That “Department” shall mean the Department of the Interior;
3. That “national military catastrophe” shall mean the cumulative environmental, health, labor, cultural, economic and human rights impact of the military activities of the Department of Energy and Department of Defense;
4. That “national sacrifice zones” shall mean any area rendered uninhabitable by human beings and hazardous to non-human life due to the cumulative military activities of the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and their contractors;
5. That “remediation” shall mean the removal of contaminants from environmental media, such as soil, groundwater, surface water, or sediment, for the purposes of protecting human health and the environment according to regulatory requirements and subject to assessments of human health and ecological risk where no legal standard exists and/or where nothing can be known with certainty or even certain uncertainty;
6. That “greenwashing” shall refer to the misleading, deceptive, and/or purposefully obscurantist promotion of policies and products that are supposedly beneficial to the environment but do not address or reform underlying practices that produce environmental harm and whose underlying purpose is to increase profit and/or unaccountability;
7. That “downwind/downstream populations” shall mean potentially the entire population of the United States.
SEC. 2 MANDATE
The National TLC Service is hereby charged to develop cultural programs that address issues of environmental justice, labor, and human rights related to national sacrifice zones. It is expected that these programs will be undertaken in collaboration with the grassroots movements, non-governmental organizations, and affected individuals already involved in contesting and reforming the Department of Energy and Department of Interior’s land and legacy stewardship practices.
This mandate includes, but is not limited to:
2.1 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;
2.2 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;
2.3 Coordinating and providing resources for the conception, design, and installation of monuments, museums, 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;
2.4 Imagining new forms of outreach programs 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. 3 FIELDS OF EXPERTISE
Given the unprecedented scope and duration of the national military catastrophe, which includes multiple interlocking environmental, cultural, and human impacts that will continue to unfold and compound over a timeline that is, in all practical terms, infinite, 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 with the following categories and caveats in mind:
3.1 Public Scholar in the Humanities
Much as the Department of the Interior is the “Department of Everything Else,” 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.
3.2 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 2.1 of this Act.
3.3 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—in particular the greenwashing of the DOD and DOE via their own “sustainability” programs and the remediation activities of this Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service—fulfillment of the mandate of the National TLC Service requires participation from affected people and groups at the very highest levels.
3.4 Prohibition on former or future employment by the national sacrifice zone industry
This Act recognizes an inherent conflict of interest between former or future employment by the military and/or entities whose primary business involves the perpetuation, management, or remediation of national sacrifice zones. In addition, this Act recognizes a conflict of interest between public statements betraying open hostility to, or disbelief in, any Federal agency’s mission and service as the director of that same agency. Understanding, however, that people’s beliefs and values may genuinely change over time, this Act hereby stipulates that the co-directors and managerial and professional staff of the National TLC Service must not be employed in the service of national sacrifice zones, or related industries, for a period of ten years immediately preceding or following their association with the National TLC Service. In addition, public statements betraying hostility to, or disbelief in, the mandate of the National TLC Service—including, but not limited to, disbelief in the existence of the Service itself—should be closely scrutinized.
SEC. 4 RECOMMENDED ACTIONS AND OUTCOMES DURING THE AGENCY’S FIRST TERM
Upon formal adoption of this Act and the successful appointment and confirmation of the three co-directors as described in Section 3, it is expected that the following recommended actions will be undertaken immediately:
4.1 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:
4.1.1 National TLC Service logo
4.1.2 National TLC Service website
4.1.3 National TLC Service fact sheet or brochure
4.1.4 National TLC Service annual report
4.2 Site-specific, collaborative, ephemeral cultural programs
Within the first year following adoption of this Act, the National TLC Service shall initiate one collaborative, site-specific cultural project, in the spirit of those itemized below:
4.2.2 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;
4.2.3 A digital archive of nuclear humor, chronicling the inventive ways that 20th and 21st century people laughed in the face of mutation.
4.3 National Cold War Memory Project
Within the first year following adoption of this Act, the National TLC Service shall produce a feasibility study concerning the eventual establishment of the following:
4.3.1 An impossible monument to human radiation testing on or near the National Mall in Washington D.C.;
4.3.2 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.