Washington, DC -- Army bases across the U.S. have been ordered to severely reduce anti-pollution and wildlife protection spending, according to an internal memo released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Citing mid-year fiscal shortages due to "fighting a war on several fronts, maintaining combat readiness on others, and transforming our warfighting force …being executed simultaneously," Major General Anders Aadland, head of the Army's new Installation Management Activity command, sent a memo to all garrison commanders on May 11 ordering immediate cutbacks in "discretionary" spending on items including personnel, travel and training, as well as the environment. As for environmental protection, Gen. Aadland directed --
" Take additional risk in environmental programs; terminate environmental contracts and delay all non-statutory enforcement actions to FY05."
"This is an order to base commanders authorizing pollution of American soil when it saves money," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing to Gen. Aadland's "take additional risk" language. "Protecting America's land, air and water is not a secondary mission that should be shirked when budgets get tight." In his memo, Gen. Aadland notes, "All reprogramming fences are lifted to allow reprogramming of funds from…environmental or other accounts restricted in previous FY04 funding guidance." While this will allow funds that Congress appropriated for specific purposes to be used for other purposes, it is not clear that Congress has approved this redirection of spending.
The Congress is now reviewing Pentagon requests for exemptions from the Clean Air Act and federal toxic control laws. This year, as in the prior two years, the Pentagon claims that these anti-pollution measures hurt military readiness and that military safeguards are sufficient to protect the environment.
"The Pentagon asking for additional environmental leeway is like the habitual drunk driver lobbying for liquor sales to be extended after midnight," commented Ruch. "The Pentagon is now the planet's most prolific and persistent polluter; its record makes a compelling case for more oversight, not less."
U.S. Army bases cover some 11.8 million acres in the domestic U.S., an area approximately the combined size of Vermont and New Hampshire. Military bases from all the services, called Defense lands, total some 25 million acres in the domestic U.S., an area approximately the size of the State of Kentucky.