In the last few years, the National Science Foundation has come under criticism by environmental groups for inadequate stewardship in the U.S. Antarctic Program's environmental issues. Since 1978, NSF was given full responsibility, by Executive Order, for budgeting and managing the entire U.S. national program in Antarctica, including logistics support. NSF has also been responsible for the compliance of the U.S. Antarctic Program with environmental protection measures agreed to by the Antarctic Treaty nations.
Specifically under fire by environmentalists have been NSF's maintenance of a land-fill, open-air burning of solid waste, and the removal of toxic substances. According to Peter E. Wilkniss, director of the Division of Polar Programs at NSF, open burning is no longer taking place and will not be allowed in the future.