Defense Bill Will Exempt Military from Species-Protection Laws

The U.S. military may be having trouble achieving its goals in Iraq, but at least it’s getting what it wants on Capitol Hill: exemptions from key environmental laws. President Bush today is scheduled to sign a $401 billion defense authorization bill that includes provisions exempting the military from components of the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. After the bill becomes law, the Navy will be able to make broader use of low-frequency sonar, despite the fact that it is believed to cause serious harm to whales, dolphins, and other marine life, and military bases won’t have to follow some rules designed to protect habitat for endangered animals. Not satisfied with that, the Defense Department is also pushing for exemptions from other long-standing environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act and the Superfund Act; it argues that environmental laws interfere with military training and readiness, a contention that enviros dispute.