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For Immediate Release: Dec 14, 2004
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337

PENTAGON TO JETTISON ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES

New Policy Drops Public Health, Cleanup and Resource Conservation Duties


Washington, DC — The Pentagon is moving to sharply reduce its environmental duties, according to a draft directive released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The proposed policy excludes anti-pollution work that does not directly "sustain the national defense mission."

This new "Department of Defense Directive" would replace a Clinton-era directive on "Environmental Security." The new directive trims a listing of Pentagon policy elements by eliminating provisions for —

  • "Reducing risk to human health and the environment by identifying, evaluating, and where necessary, remediating contamination resulting from past DoD activities";
  • Protecting, preserving, and, when required, restoring, and enhancing the quality of the environment"; and
  • Conserving, and restoring where necessary, the natural and cultural heritage represented on DoD installations within the United States."

"The Pentagon is transforming itself into an entity concerned only about its own logistics and facility management – and the public be damned," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, pointing to the Pentagon's recent efforts to exempt itself from an array of environmental laws. "Under this new policy, who will protect America's waters, air and soil from the Pentagon?"

The new policy would also significantly cut Pentagon compliance with anti-pollution rules by dropping requirements that it obey "regulations, Executive orders, binding international agreements" and other federal "environmental, safety, occupational health, explosives safety, fire and emergency services, and pest management policies." In its place, the Pentagon would pledge to only abide by "applicable law and DoD policy."

In stripping away promises to improve or protect the environment, the new Directive instead says that the Pentagon "will evaluate all activities…and make prudent investments in initiatives that support mission accomplishment, enhance readiness, reduce future funding needs, prevent pollution, ensure cost effective compliance, and maximize the existing resource capability."

"The Pentagon is preparing this self-serving shift without public debate or Congressional review," added Ruch. "Under the new Directive, the Pentagon answers only to itself."

Department of Defense Directives define the agency's mission and responsibilities. By its terms, this Directive covers all "DoD operations, activities, and installations worldwide, including Government-owned/contractor-operated facilities."

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Read the proposed DoD Directive on Environmental Security

See the current DoD Directive