Next year’s defense bill pretty much demolishes the Obama administration’s jury-rigged plan to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay by exporting detainees to an Illinois prison. But that’s not all the joy it brings into the world: It also picks a fight with Defense Secretary Robert Gates by [overspending on a second engine for the F-35 and the Virginia-class submarine](http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/05/congress-to-gates-screw-you-again/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+WiredDangerRoom+(Blog+-+Danger+Room\)), practically daring President Obama to veto the bill. (Or, at least, daring Democratic lawmakers on the House floor next week to strip that stuff out of the bill.) The bill also expresses displeasure with a controversial Army program to understand the local cultures of countries like Iraq and Afghanistan that U.S. soldiers need to interact with in order to fulfill their missions.
That’s the Human Terrain System, a hybrid anthropology and intelligence program. Danger Room pretty much owns the story for chronicling its exploits, its successes and its failures, so I’ll refer you to this post today about HTS’s role in Afghanistan. But the House Armed Services Committee isn’t convinced that HTS adds value to the war effort. Its summary of the bill includes this shot across the program’s bow:
While the Committee remains supportive of the Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS) to leverage social science expertise to support operational commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is increasingly concerned that the Army has not paid sufficient attention to addressing certain concerns. The Committee encourages the Department to continue to develop a broad range of opportunities that leverage the important contributions that can be offered by social science expertise to support key missions such as irregular warfare, counterinsurgency, and stability and reconstruction operations. The bill limits the obligation of funding for HTS until the Army submits a required assessment of the program, provides revalidation of all existing operations requirements, and certifies Department?level guidelines for the use of social scientists.
A spokesman for the part of the Army housing HTS declined to comment on “ongoing budget negotiations in Congress.” But my understanding is this is a matter of the Defense Department not delivering a report it needs to give the committee explaining the value of the program. If that report is forthcoming, as I understand it is, then the program shouldn’t experience any interruption in funding.
Meanwhile, Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security finds at least one valuable proposal in the defense bill.
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
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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 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 Analysis Says Climate Bill’s Cost for Households Would Be ‘Modest’
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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 biologist says fracking may be partly to blame for West Virginia fish kill
New documents obtained by an environmental news service show that an EPA analyst believes that wastewater from fracking may be partly responsible for a fish kill in a West Virginia river. Scientific American reports : U.S
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 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 defends new nutrient criteria for Florida waterways
In congressional testimony on Friday, the federal Environmental Protection Agency was again criticized for its proposed numeric nutrient criteria, a set of standards to regulate pollution from nitrogen and phosphorus in Florida waterways. But EPA representatives defended the agency’s decision to implement the standards, arguing that they are needed for the health and safety of citizens and businesses struggling to survive in harsh economic times. # The decision to force the state to implement a stringent set of nutrient criteria came as the result of legislation — but both the EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection had for years been attempting to draft something similar