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Environmental accountability, Environmental law, Comparative military studies, National security, Comparative environmental law


Critics often fault the U.S. military for its environmental stewardship, and legal scholarship frequently highlights efforts by the military· to seek national security exemptions from various environmental laws and the military's poor cleanup record Yet the Department of Defense ("DoD '') is largely subject to and complies with the fall array of American environmental laws in the same manner and extent as any agency of the federal government. While the military 's environmental record is far from perfect, a comparative legal survey shows that the U.S. is at the relative forefront of effectively balancing environmental stewardship with national security.

This article surveys the environmental laws that apply to the U.S. and other major militaries of the world during peacetime. Four themes begin to emerge from this comparative analysis. First, the effective use of judicial enforcement within the U.S. via the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA'') and environmental citizen suit provisions ensures that the US. military is continually accountable to the public for its actions impacting the environment. Second, this "environmental accountability" effectively upholds the longstanding tradition of civilian control over the military, an unexpected and welcome byproduct of American environmental law. Third, despite an initial, post-September 11, 2001 flurry of requests for broader environmental exemptions for the military, these requests have dissipated. Twelve years later, environmental laws as applied to the military have emerged intact, a testament to the durability and permanency of American environmental law. Lastly, there are lessons that the U.S. and other nations can learn from each other about effectively reconciling environmental stewardship with national security. Such reconciliation is more important than ever with the emergence of climate change and the need for all sectors of society-including the world's militaries, a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions-to be held folly accountable for their contribution to a changing climate.

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University of Hawai'i Law Review