In the presidential campaign of 2000, Bush vowed to force the military to “comply with environmental laws by which all of us must live,” but according to a comprehensive investigation by USA Today, he has done the opposite. Since assuming power, the Bush White House has worked closely with the Defense Department to deflect military responsibility for cleanup of polluted sites, ward off new regulations on contaminants like perchlorate and trichloroethylene, and reduce the U.S. EPA’s power to investigate and enforce environmental violations at military sites. Though the $4 billion a year the Pentagon spends on environmental compliance represents less than 1 percent of defense spending, the administration is determined to reduce the number. The Pentagon has argued that environmental compliance reduces military readiness, but has offered no evidence, and according to an internal Pentagon memo recently obtained by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, cuts in military environmental programs may actually cost more, and have a more substantial effect on readiness, than compliance.
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