Defying environmental law, the U.S. Defense Department has resisted repeated orders lately from the U.S. EPA to clean up some of the nation’s most contaminated places. The DoD/EPA standoff has turned into a bureaucratic pissing match wherein the EPA has asserted its authority to order and oversee cleanup of ultra-polluted Superfund sites the DoD owns, but where DoD, in its characteristic style, doesn’t want to acknowledge EPA’s power and maintains that it’s cleaning up many of the contaminated sites itself voluntarily — albeit extremely slowly. The fate of contaminated aquifers, polluted soil, and public health at three military bases hang in the balance; timely cleanup of some 12 other Superfund sites are also at stake. Complicating matters, different departments in the executive branch are discouraged from suing each other, so the EPA’s legal recourses are limited. Meanwhile, the DoD is appealing to the Justice Department and the White House to intervene on its behalf.

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