Apropos of my story today about the consistently-ballooning defense budget, Defense News has a leak of the Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon’s big
Apropos of my story today about the consistently-ballooning defense budget, Defense News has a leak of the Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon’s big planning document that, among other things, is supposed to shape the budget. This is just a leak of a draft, and not the final document. But the document is entering its absolute final phase, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be testifying about it and next year’s budget (they’re released simultaneously) before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. As I wrote today, Gates sent strong signals last year that the QDR would signal what further big-ticket items would get reined in or cut altogether.
And the draft suggests that Gates wasn’t playing around. Some bullet points:
The FY11 budget build on FY10, providing additional attention to key lines of investment that are highlighted in the reports
? Taking care of our troops and our people
? Reforming how we buy and operate
? The current fight
? Plausible future challenges
Now, you can’t tell from that what will be cut. The defense budget is always a fight between the immediate challenges of the present and what each military service envisions as the future of war and its relevance to it. Gates has said, repeatedly — and conspicuously last year when he chopped a bunch of programs — that he’s sick of buying stuff for every conceivable challenge, no matter how hypothetical. But we need to wait and see how that cashes out. The draft’s intro says:
QDR analyses centered on the following challenge areas: defending the United States and providing defense support to civil authorities, conducting irregular operations (including counterinsurgency, stability operations, and counter-terrorist operations), defeating adversaries armed with anti-access capabilities, countering weapons of mass destruction, and operating effectively in cyberspace.
That paragraph strongly suggests — as does Gates’ entire tenure, really — that the Pentagon ought to be reoriented around immediate, manifested challenges. (I guess you could argue that the “anti-access capabilities” thing is the exception; my ignorant speculation is that’s in there so the South Koreans and Japanese don’t think we’re ignoring North Korea.) But here’s the thing: the services are really good at arguing that their existing priorities are applicable to new circumstances. That’s how the F-22, a Cold War-era fighter aircraft, survived until Gates killed it last year. So we’ll have to see how exactly the budget measures up to the QDR construct. Does it rebrand old wine or does it smash some corked bottles?
Luckily, Michele Flournoy, the undersecretary of defense for policy, will give a speech on Tuesday, before Gates and Mullen testify, on the QDR.
EPA Administrator Addresses Concerns About Oil Spill Waste Management
At a hearing of the national oil spill commission today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson addressed concerns about waste disposal from
EPA administrator defends allowing Florida to write its own water pollution rules
The EPA seal (Pic via sentryjournal.com) The Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire for its decision to allow the state of Florida to write its own water pollution rules (known as “numeric nutrient criteria”). EPA Regional Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming is now firing back, writing that the Agency commends the state Department of Environmental Protection for its draft of a proposed standard. A host of environmental groups filed suit in 2008, seeking to compel the EPA to implement a strict set of water pollution standards in Florida, arguing that the state was in violation of the Clean Water Act.
E-Verify Mandate Begins Today
The Obama administration today begins implementation of a new mandate to require all federal contractors to check the legal status of their employees to confirm
EPA administrator fires back at critics in op-ed
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (Pic by USACEpublicaffairs, via Flickr) EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson penned a new op-ed for the Los Angeles Times , criticizing House Republicans desperately seeking to undermine the authority of the agency they have dubbed a “job killer.” Arguing that the environment affects red states and blue states alike, Jackson writes that “it is time for House Republicans to stop politicizing our air and water.” As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson has faced harsh criticism from House Republicans and GOP presidential candidates who say the agency’s regulations are an undue burden on businesses that have to cut jobs simply to comply with clean water and air rules. Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann has pledged to end the EPA if she takes office. “Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and our nation’s environmental laws,” writes Jackson.
EPA administrator says federal nutrient criteria is a ‘myth’
In testimony given late last week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that false accusations about her agency’s numeric nutrient criteria to govern Florida waterways are proving to be a detriment to their implementation. # Testifying before the House Agriculture Committee, Jackson said her agency’s work was often “mischaracterized” and addressed several myths surrounding its work
EPA and California Near Deal on Fuel Efficiency Standards
Two weeks ago, the Obama administration raised fuel efficiency standards by an average of two miles per gallon -- a modest change that disappointed some
EPA: BP Has 24 Hours to Find a Less Toxic Chemical Dispersant
Thought the massive quantities of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico were the only major threat to the country’s southeast coastal waters right now? Think
EPA announces hold on nutrient standards if Florida can come up with own criteria
The EPA announced today that it is now prepared to withdraw a portion of its proposed numeric nutrient criteria (a set of standards governing water pollution in inland waters) and delay the portion related to estuarine waters, to allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to develop its own criteria. # From a statement released by the EPA earlier today: # EPA recognizes that states have the primary role in establishing and implementing water quality standards for their waters. Therefore, EPA is prepared to withdraw the federal inland standards and delay the estuarine standards if FDEP adopts, and EPA approves, their own protective and scientifically sound numeric standards
EPA Chief Overruled Calif. Waiver, Too
The Washington Post reported in March that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson was overruled by the White House in setting an ozone standard. Now, documents