The Pentagon’s War on America: Toxic Bureaucracy: The Rollback

Ray DuBois, the former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, argued that environmental laws had been hampering realistic training long before President George W. Bush was elected. “It was not something that emerged full flower in my mind or after Jan. 20, 2001, in the Bush administration’s mind. This had been percolating for years. This doesn’t happen overnight. Encroachment doesn’t happen overnight.” Beginning with the fiscal year 2003 defense authorization bill, DuBois pressed Congress in each year of his tenure for exemptions and amendments for the military to just such environmental  laws. Continue reading The Pentagon’s War on America: Toxic Bureaucracy: The Rollback

The Pentagon’s War on America: Toxic Bureaucracy: Accusations of Bias

The result of the perchlorate battle was a win for the Pentagon, and Ray DuBois, the former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, found the process useful for downplaying the dangers of other potentially problematic chemicals. NAS’ stamp of approval was again sought after a draft EPA assessment was released on trichloroethylene (TCE), a degreasing solvent used for decades to clean military vehicles. The 2001 draft deemed TCE “highly likely to produce cancer in humans,” a ruling that would have had tremendous liability consequences for DOD.

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The Pentagon’s War on America: Toxic Bureaucracy: Confronting the EPA

National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington D.C.  Photo from the National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Sciences Building in Washington D.C. Photo from the National Academy of Sciences
Perhaps because of his near-unconditional job security, Ray DuBois, the Bush era’s first Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations and Environment, felt free to question the good faith of EPA scientists when he disagreed with their work. The Pentagon chemicals office was formed in large measure because of the furor that arose when EPA issued a January 2002 draft assessment of perchlorate, the rocket fuel stabilizer, suggesting a drinking water limit of 1 part per billion (ppb) — an infinitesimal amount that can be expensive to achieve — might be needed to protect the health of fetuses of pregnant women who drank water contaminated with the substance, based on thyroid impairment in lab animals. The Public Education Center, DCBureau.org’s parent organization, worked closely with the Wall Street Journal on a 2003 series examining the issue.

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The Pentagon’s War on America: Toxic Bureaucracy: The Balance of Power

President Barack Obama with OMB Director Peter Orszag in the Oval Office.  Photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama with OMB Director Peter Orszag in the Oval Office. Photo by Pete Souza
Last month, the Pentagon and several of its top contractors found an open door in President Obama’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to discuss potential new health standards for perchlorate. Perchlorate is one of a number of controversial substances used by Pentagon contractors that are known to adversely affect human health. The meeting was the latest maneuver in a long-running campaign — aimed at influencing environmental standards that could mean major new cleanups and liability costs for the military and its subsidiaries — that began in an obscure but powerful office established by the Bush-era Department of Defense (DOD). For the first time, the man responsible for starting this campaign to save contractors and the military from having to face the environmental consequences of their actions has spoken to DCBureau.org.

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