2009 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Lenny Siegel <lsiegel@cpeo.org>
Date: Thu, 30 Jul 2009 12:58:05 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: Re: [CPEO-MEF] FUNDING: Earmarks questioned
In my view, there are earmarks and there are earmarks. Some are good, and some are bad.

CPEO, when it began as the California Economic Recovery and Environmental Restoration Project at San Francisco State University, was funded through a base-closure-related earmark proposed by Congresswoman Pelosi. Congress specified numerous base-closure-related earmarks that year, and it appropriated only half the money necessary to cover those earmarks. So we still had to compete to get the money, which was significantly less than Pelosi originally proposed. (Remember, she was not so powerful in the early/mid 1990s.)

On the whole, these earmarks stimulated the development of valuable recovery and environmental programs that might have taken years to incubate within the Pentagon.

I am somewhat familiar with two of the earmarks attributed to Congresswoman Lofgren in the Washington Post article:

The money for the former Almaden Air Force Station is to carry out building demolition and debris removal (BDDR) at this Formerly Used Defense Site. By policy, the Army chooses not to use environmental restoration funding for BDDR, so for many years the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, the current owner, has been stuck with deteriorating, hazardous structures on its parkland.

If I remember correctly, Stanford's research into paraffin-based solid rocket fuel might provide an alternative to ammonium-perchlorate-based fuel. In addition to the threat perchlorate poses to drinking water when improperly handled, ammonium-perchlorate-based rocket fuel releases large quantities of hydrogen chloride by design, not an an unintended byproduct. This leads to hydrochloric acid precipitation at lower altitudes, and it directly delivers ozone-depleting chlorine to the upper atmosphere. The Defense Department has been slow to research alternatives to ammonium-perchlorate-based rocket fuel, so this earmark has a valid policy objective.

To be sure, Lofgren's earmarks are designed to benefit entities in or near her district, but their objectives are reasonable.


Lenny Siegel wrote:
Earmarks of Committee Members Probing Defense Earmarks Questioned

By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post
July 30, 2009

Members of the House ethics committee, who are investigating a pattern of lawmakers steering federal funds to generous defense contractors, are all set to have their pet military projects funded by the same committee whose activities they are probing.

The 10 committee members together would get 29 earmarks -- or $59 million in federal funding for projects they requested in their districts or states -- under a proposed House military spending bill up for a vote today or tomorrow. The details were approved last week by the House defense appropriations subcommittee, whose practice of steering earmarks to a well-connected lobby firm close to the chairman, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), is the subject of the ethics committee's investigation.

Ethics committee chairman Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) would receive $9.5 million in three earmarks under Murtha's bill. That includes $4 million to clean up contamination at the former Almaden (Calif.) Air Force Station, $2 million for "printed and conformal electronics" research, and $3.5 million to help Stanford University aeronautical research into the use of parafin-based rocket fuel.


For the entire article, see


Lenny Siegel
Executive Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight
a project of the Pacific Studies Center
278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041
Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545
Fax: 650/961-8918

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