By engaging the entire Air Force organization, the program encompasses all of the various roles played by a large federal agency, which include researcher, technology and product developer, large consumer of commercial and industrial products and technologies, operator of large industrial plants, construction agent, facility manager, and city manager. In each of these roles, the Air Force not only affects the environment but also has an opportunity to lead others, both inside and outside government, by example.
This paper describes the Air Force Pollution Prevention Program, explains how it was developed and is being implemented, and provides a perspective for assessing its significance.
On October 10, 1989, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney issued a memorandum on environmental management policy to the secretaries of the military departments. The policy statement was direct and clear. Secretary Cheney said the ''Administration wants the United States to be the world leader in addressing environmental problems, and I want the Department of Defense to be the federal leader in agency environmental compliance and protection." The statement made the point that the Department of Defense, as the largest federal agency, has a great responsibility to meet this challenge and that Secretary Cheney wanted every command to set an environmental standard by which federal agencies would be judged. One of the most significant statements in the policy is "the first priority of our environmental policy must be to integrate and budget environmental considerations into our activities and operations." This provided a policy basis for identifying environmental investments needed to meet environmental goals and obtaining needed financial resources.
Complementing Secretary Cheney's policy is the DOD Directive 4210.15, Hazardous Materials Pollution Prevention. It states that the Military Services are to "select, use and manage hazardous materials so as to incur the lowest life cycle cost to protect human health, the environment and long-term liability." While this is a basic and sound business approach, implementation is an enormously difficult and complex task. Since the art and science of selecting materials and processes to minimize environmental impact are in their infancy, there was no implementing guidance to accompany the directive. This left significant discretion to program managers in a world of many competing priorities.
The activity that drives the greatest amount of hazardous waste generation in the U.S. military is system acquisition. The technologies used to develop, build, operate, and maintain weapons systems drive approximately 90 percent of the military use of hazardous materials/use and generation of hazardous waste. At first, the notion of a "green" weapons system may seem absurd, but in reality it is not. Weapons systems spend most of their lives in a peacetime role. Consequently, the environmental impact created by the system results in large part from train-