Protect the Earth & Support the Mission this Earth Day

  • Published
  • By SAF/IEE Environment

Today, April 22, the Department of the Air Force (DAF) commemorates the 51st annual Earth Day. With this year’s theme, “Do your Part – Protect the Earth, Support the Mission”, the DAF will focus on the important role Airmen, Guardians, and civilians play in the daily stewardship of our precious natural and cultural resources, the health and safety of our people and the surrounding communities, and our understanding of how environmental conservation managements helps sustain our mission.

As the trustee to almost 9 million acres of land including forests, prairies, deserts, wetlands, and coastal habitats, we understand the extraordinary biodiversity these lands contain, and the priceless asset they are to the American people and to the DAF. Our ability to sustain and enhance military readiness and other installation activities depends on proactive, ecosystem-based management strategies that help our installations promote healthy landscapes, maintain realistic training environments, and ensure regulatory compliance.

In an effort to conserve natural resources, protect Airmen, Guardians and their families, and reduce compliance and cost burdens, DAF places strong emphasis on pollution prevention and waste minimization, including landfill diversion, composting/mulching, recycling, and source reduction. Our goal is to “win the war against waste” and we encourage each airman, guardian and their families to do their best each day to recycle and divert waste from landfills which sustains the environment where we train, live and work. Additionally, we are integrating and prioritizing climate change considerations into our activities and risk assessments to mitigate future vulnerabilities. We are demonstrating our continued resolve toward safety and environmental stewardship by addressing hazards from wartime, buried munitions and explosives of concern, and returning contaminated lands to productive re-use. We continue to consult in good faith with state, federal, and tribal entities to avoid, minimize, or mitigate mission impact on significant cultural and archeological resources. We provide millions of gallons of water per year for mission critical operations, including providing safe drinking water for human consumption, and water for fire-fighting, sanitation, and other industrial processes.

Our Airmen and Guardians and their families live and work in the communities in which our installations reside, so we fully understand the need to promote environmental protection and stewardship at work and at home.

By becoming more environmentally aware and making environmentally-informed decisions – this Earth Day and everyday – we possess the ability to protect the earth and support the mission.

This Earth Day we’d like to take the opportunity to highlight the great accomplishments of our 2021 Department of the Air Force Thomas D. White Environmental Award winners. This year’s winners include:

  • Thomas E. Penders - Cultural Resources Management, Individual Team
  • Yokota Air Base - Environmental Quality Overseas
  • Whiteman Air Force Base - Sustainability Team
  • Eglin Air Force Base - Natural Resources Conservation
  • Shaw Air Force Base - Environmental Restoration
  • Schriever Air Force Base - Cultural Resources Management, Small Installation

The Environment Program enables the mission by protecting human health and the environment through compliance with environmental laws and regulations, conservation through sound management and consultation practices, and the application of innovative remediation technologies that accelerate environmental cleanup.