PRESS RELEASE

PENTAGON PARES BACK ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITIES

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Washington, DC — In a significant policy shift, the Pentagon has sharply
reduced its environmental duties, according to Public Employees for Environmental
Responsibility (PEER). A new directive signed by outgoing Deputy Defense Secretary
Paul Wolfowitz on March 19, 2005 confines Pentagon anti-pollution work only to
activities that directly “sustain the national defense mission.”

This new “Department of Defense Directive” cancels 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.”

In an apparent concession to criticisms leveled when PEER posted a draft of
the new policy in December, the final version was changed to add as policy “to
protect DoD personnel from accidental death, injury or occupational illness”
and “to protect the public from risk of death, injury, illness, or property
damage because of DoD activities.”

“These changes show that protecting the public and even their own personnel
from environmental threats is an afterthought,” stated PEER Executive
Director Jeff Ruch. “One additional change to the final policy is opening
‘dialogue’ on environmental issues, which is ironic coming in a
document that was developed in secret in the utter absence of dialogue.”

The new policy also significantly cuts 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.”

“Despite having the worst pollution record on the planet, the Pentagon
promises to self-regulate its environmental performance,” added Ruch,
pointing to the Pentagon’s continuing efforts to exempt itself from an
array of environmental laws. “This new policy says that Pentagon agencies
will do only the minimum pollution prevention and clean-up as required by its
logistical and facility management needs.”

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 new Pentagon “Directive
on Environment, Safety and Occupational Health”

See
the former Clinton-era DoD Directive

Look
at the draft of the new policy posted by PEER in December 2004

Review the Pentagon’s
Five-Year Plan to Exempt Itself from Environmental Laws