The Vine

Permission To Contaminate, Sir!


The Pentagon is resisting the EPA’s orders to clean up its contaminated
military sites, the Washington Post reports
. The danger? The Defense Department owns more Superfund sites than anyone
else, as well as more than 25,000 contaminated sites nationwide, where the department's toxic legacy could pose serious risks to public health and the


While the Post calls its recent pushback against the EPA’s
regulatory efforts “unprecedented,” the Pentagon has been trying to grant
itself the license to pollute and contaminate during the entirety of the Bush
administration. The Pentagon sought sweeping
from the Clean Air Act, tried to exclude explosives and
munitions from being classified as hazardous waste, and attempted to deny
compensation to state authorities when DOD sites contaminate public resources. Defense
officials have argued that it needs such exemptions to control costs and enable
the military “train as we fight,” and the EPA’s gutted
and declawed regulatory capabilities have sapped its ability to push


The Pentagon may well be trying
to go green
to save on fuel costs, experimenting with alternative-energy
projects like these nifty wind turbines
at Guantanamo Bay
. But when it comes to toxic missteps that have only human costs, it
continues to shirk from its responsibility to clean up after itself. In a
recent Senate committee hearing on Perchlorate--a substance in rocket fuel that
has leaked from military bases nationwide--Defense officials were accused of trying to bury
information about the chemical’s toxic properties to the endocrine system. Why? Well, according to the
National Resource Defense Council, the substance’s widespread
release has contaminated the drinking water of an estimated 20 million people. Without adequate regulation, such culprits
appear to know few bounds.


--Suzy Khimm

Suzy Khimm is a senior editor at The New Republic.

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