Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis and Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, are calling for the U.S. Army to hold hearings in Utah on a draft environmental impact statement about its overall biologic defense research program.

That document looks at possible effects of germ research conducted for the Army at universities nationwide - including Brigham Young University and Utah State University - and at a variety of army bases, including Dugway Proving Ground.It is different from a related document currently under review examining a proposed germ warfare defense lab at Dugway that could make aerosols out of germs that cause diseases without cure.

The Army held a hearing in Alexandria, Va., last week on the draft EIS for the overall biologic defense research program, but planned no others. But interested citizens have until Aug. 12 to submit written comments if they wish.

But DePaulis signed a letter Monday to Charles Dasey of the Army Medical Research Development Command at Ft. Detrick, Md., saying the Army should seek more comment from Utahns.

"I believe it is important that the general public have the benefit of seeing the big picture of the Army's biological weapons program before any decisions are made regarding the proposed Dugway aerosol testing lab," DePaulis wrote.

He suggested that the Aug. 12 deadline for comments also be extended to accommodate a Utah hearing.

Owens also wrote a letter last week asking Secretary of the Army John Marsh to hold at least one public hearing in Utah on its biologic research program.

He said since the draft EIS was released last spring, "there has been nothing but criticism for it. Such criticism has caused the level of concern, already very high, to rise in Utah.

"There are numerous individuals and groups in Utah who have questions and can't travel to the faraway locations the Army has chosen for hearings. It would be in everyone's best interest, including the Army's, if a hearing were held in Utah," Owens said.

The letters from Owens and DePaulis follow an earlier, similar request by the Legislature's Health Interim Committee.