2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 24 Mar 2003 22:45:38 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Assault on Iraq: Military Chiefs Will Consider Environmental Exempt
The following article can be viewed at The Wall Street Journal online

Please note that this article originally ran March 20, 2003.

The Wall Street Journal
Copyright (c) 2003, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Assault on Iraq: Military Chiefs Will Consider Environmental Exemptions
By David Armstrong

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has ordered military-service
chiefs to provide information that would help President Bush invoke
national-security exemptions to environmental laws -- in an action
environmentalists charge is timed to take advantage of the situation in

In a memo dated March 7, Mr. Wolfowitz ordered the chiefs of the Army,
Navy and Air Force to come up with a plan to forward quickly any cases
to the Defense Department where military readiness is being harmed by
environmental regulations.

"While I believe we should be commended for our past restraint in this
regard, I believe it is time for us to give greater consideration to
requesting such exemptions in cases where environmental requirements
threaten our continued ability to properly train and equip the men and
women of the Armed Forces," he writes.

The military has long been a major polluter in the U.S. and abroad.
Although some critics say the military has been more diligent in recent
years in complying with environmental laws and cleaning up massive
contamination at former bases, major issues are unresolved -- including
leakages of toxic perchlorate from many military sites and the cleanup
of unexploded ordnance
on bombing ranges.

The president has the power to exempt the military from most
environmental laws for reasons of national security, but that power has
been used sparingly and never with the justification that those laws
impede military readiness.

In his memo, Mr. Wolfowitz cites a "growing number" of environmental
regulations and lawsuits that "threaten to limit our continued ability
to use these lands and airspace for necessary military training and

Mr. Wolfowitz tells the military chiefs that his memo doesn't signal a
diminished commitment to environmental programs and that any decision to
seek a presidential exemption remains a "high hurdle." At the same time,
he writes that "we cannot lose sight of the fact these testing, training
and other military areas and resources have been entrusted to our care
-- first and foremost -- to provide for the realistic training and
testing" of forces.

The memo comes at the same time the Defense Department is pushing
proposals in Congress to exempt the military from major pollution laws.
That effort requires congressional consent, and opposition has been
intense from environmental groups and some lawmakers. The process
suggested by Mr. Wolfowitz wouldn't require legislative approval.

The Bush administration first began pushing for looser environmental
restrictions on the military two years ago, but environmentalists and
congressional critics said the administration now is trying to use the
Iraqi crisis and the threat of terrorism to circumvent pollution

"I have dealt with the military for years and they constantly seek to
get out from under environmental laws, but using the current conflict in
the Middle East to get unprecedented environmental immunity is
despicable," said Rep. John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who has been
active on the issue.

Jeff Ruch, director of the Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility, which has been critical of military polluting, said the
Defense Department has yet to make the case that environmental laws
impede its ability to prepare for conflict. He noted that Environmental
Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman recently told
Congress that she knows of no instance where military training was
upheld by an environmental rule.

Pentagon spokesman Glenn Flood said Mr. Wolfowitz's memo isn't intended
to provoke an immediate request for a presidential exemption.

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