Sequestration has caused furloughs for almost 800,000 civilian employees at the Defense Department, but “funding for the Pentagon’s environmental initiatives is largely shielded” from the spending cuts, according to a top official.
“The Defense Department has a dedication to the environment that is wider in scope than a lot of people are familiar with,” John Conger, acting deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment, said at the Aspen Security Forum last week. “We spend $4 billion a year on our environmental programs.”
“Conger assured the audience that funding for the Pentagon’s environmental initiatives is largely shielded, and the Pentagon has gained ground in efforts from endangered species rehabilitation to site cleanup programs,” according to the Armed Forces Press Service.
The Pentagon doesn’t have a transcript of Conger’s speech. “I think he was talking about the money that’s been spent on obeying environmental laws throughout our installations,” Defense Department spokesman Mark Wright told the Washington Examiner Thursday afternoon. “That kind of money is considered O&M, operational, and I think because it falls into that category, I think it was [exempt from sequester].”
Wright promised to provide a more precise answer next week; he’s out of the office today, on furlough. “I cannot even check my Blackberry, legally,” he said.