2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 16 Apr 2003 19:03:12 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Battle of the env. breaks out as Pentagon urges fewer limits on mil
WORLD NEWS: Battle of the environment breaks out as Pentagon urges fewer
limits on military    By Demetri Sevastopulos
Financial Times;
Apr 15, 2003

The Republican staff of the US Senate's environment committee have taken
it into their own hands to combat what they see as a threat to the US
military: environmental regulations.

They have even given their efforts a militaristic moniker: the catchy
"Operation End Extremism". The five-week-old campaign - whose main
weapon is e-mail - underscores the controversy surrounding efforts to
insulate the US military from environmental lawsuits.

Last month, the Defense Department asked Congress to "clarify"
environmental regulations governing marine mammals, toxic waste, air
quality and endangered species. The Pentagon says vague legal
definitions leave it vulnerable to legal challenges, damaging its
ability to train soldiers.

As the Pentagon has devoted most of its efforts in recent months to
Iraq, the baton appears to have passed to James Inhofe, the Republican
chairman of the environment committee. Employing an unusual tactic for a
committee, Mr Inhofe's staff send periodic e-mails to journalists
offering sentence-by-sentence rebuttals of environmental groups'
criticisms of the Pentagon's request.

"The environmental movement has lots and lots of money and has been very
good at reaching out to the public," said Mike Catanzaro, an aide to Mr
Inhofe. "We thought that we needed to get our message out there to
counter some of their distortions."

The debate about environmental exemptions for the military is all the
more contentious because of the timing. Congress broadly rejected a
similar request by the military last year. Now, with the US military
engaged in Iraq and other places across the world, the Pentagon says
there is a more acute need to reduce limitations on combat training.
"There's a wave of pending legislation that we do see as a threat," says
Benedict Cohen, deputy general counsel at the defence department. "We
don't want to wait until there is a train wreck."

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental
campaigning group which comes under heavy fire in "Operation End
Extremism", accuses the defence department of taking advantage of the
prevailing patriotic winds.

"Unfortunately, the Pentagon seems to be exploiting the situation in
Iraq," says Rob Perks of NRDC. "Existing laws already allow national
security to trump environmental concerns, so they don't need new,
sweeping exemptions. And they've never proven that the laws even
constrain military training. The Pentagon is using classic Bush
administration Orwellian logic."

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