CAP’s Bracken Hendricks, Daniel Weiss and Lisbeth Kaufman have the details of how the Pentagon has become leaders in clean energy.
The United States, the world?s largest consumer of energy and oil, imports 7 billion barrels of oil a year. One out of five of these barrels come from unfriendly countries. Unsurprisingly, our foreign oil habit presents major energy challenges affecting our national security and economic competitiveness. The Department of Defense under Defense Secretary Robert Gates is particularly aware of this energy security threat, and has begun to address it across all three branches of the military.
Efforts to combat the hazards of oil dependency must continue under Leon E. Panetta, the nominee to replace Gates as secretary of defense. Panetta, current director of the Central Intelligence Agency, made this clear in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on June 9. He noted that we must determine:
?what additional steps we can take both in the development of weapons, and the development of technologies, how we can better use clean energy, how we can better use some of the new forms of energy in order to reduce fuel costs at the Pentagon, but more importantly, in order to contribute to, hopefully, a cleaner environment.
This view reiterates the findings of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, which identified energy security as one of four key priorities for reforming Department of Defense operations. This is because the DOD spends $20 billion on 135 million barrels of fuel and 30 million megawatt-hours of electricity a year. Likewise, 70 percent of convoys on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq are dedicated solely to transporting fuel and water. With more than 3,000 American soldiers killed or wounded while transporting energy and billions of dollars siphoned by unfriendly foreign oil producers, the DOD only stands to gain from reforming its energy system and investing in clean energy and energy efficiency.
The DOD has already made great strides in advancing energy security through operational improvements to the department?s installations. These facilities cover 29 million acres, and include 539,000 buildings and structures valued at more than $700 billion. With so many structures, DOD?s investment in energy efficiency and renewable technologies can help create a market and steadily lower the cost for advanced energy technology. DOD efforts to meet energy security challenges are already beginning to reduce risks for military personnel, safeguard America?s global strategic interests, and cost effectively ensure troop readiness. DOD commitments to research, development, and deployment of innovative energy technologies are also critical to the growth of jobs and civilian industries.
For continued progress on this issue, the DOD must sustain its commitment to existing programs that enable the three services to continue their energy innovations. Congress and the administration must ensure ongoing support for key policies that make this success possible. When Secretary Panetta is confirmed as the head of the DOD, he should make a concerted effort to redouble commitment to energy security investments within the DOD in coming years, as he suggested at his confirmation hearing. These efforts will strengthen national security and save lives, while also building markets for clean tech products first developed for military use. This will spur economic development and create new jobs.
At this moment of tight budgets and tough choices, preserving America?s commitment to energy security must remain a top priority for our national defense and the health of our economy.
There is a long bipartisan tradition of support for Defense-related energy technology innovation.
President George Bush signed into law the Energy Independence Security Act, or EISA, in 2007. Section 526 of the bill encourages federal agencies?including the military?to invest in new, cleaner alternative fuels to power vehicles and aircraft by requiring agencies to purchase fuels that have lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions that are ?less than or equal to such emissions from the equivalent conventional fuel produced from conventional petroleum sources.?
This legislative requirement has spurred the DOD to focus on reduction of oil use through the production of cleaner advanced biofuels. Unfortunately the House-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act, H.R. 1540, would exempt DOD from restrictions on using fuels dirtier than conventional ones. Enactment of this provision could slow or halt the development of cleaner fuels, and put the military under tremendous pressure to use dirty ?coal to liquid? and tar sands-based fuels. Both fuels produce more carbon dioxide pollution than conventional petroleum-based fuels. The House of Representatives are also likely to use the FY 2012 military construction spending bill to block enforcement of Section 526 so that the military and other federal agencies can purchase dirty fuels.
Recently, Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) released the Department of Defense Energy Security Act of 2011, or DODESA, which would further enhance the DOD?s ability to systematically improve energy security. The bill sets goals and provides funding for the reduction of military facility and fleet fuel use, along with development of renewable energy technologies at military installations.
DODESA enhances mission effectiveness by:
DODESA reduces DOD?s reliance on a vulnerable electric grid by:
In an op-ed about the bill, Sen. Udall wrote:
By decreasing energy intensity of military operations, we will save billions of dollars and improve the effectiveness of our military missions. The less obvious advantage of these measures is that by reducing our military?s dependence on fossil fuels? we will reduce U.S. oil consumption?and with it, the prospect of conflict across the world.
Preserving EISA and passing DODESA will be hugely instrumental in expanding the DOD?s successful clean energy reforms. Additionally, Congress should support the next director of the DOD in furthering the department?s investment in clean energy.
Clean and efficient energy are essential to enhance troop performance and safety. Military planners have underscored the idea that energy efficiency is a force multiplier. It increases the range and endurance of forces in the field while reducing the number of combat forces diverted to operation and protection of energy supply lines. Plus, as the Quadrennial Defense Review notes, pursuing energy security and economic stability are inextricably linked. Reducing dependence on oil, for example, has both profound security and economic dimensions.
DOD has outlined a number of strategic energy security objectives that are central to the defense of the nation. These objectives and some examples of how DOD is implementing the strategies include:
Both the Department of Defense as a whole and each of the military branches have taken strong leadership in setting ambitious goals for energy independence and in deploying innovative energy technology to meet those targets. Major steps have been taken across the department to develop and implement new energy solutions using renewable fuels, renewable electricity, energy efficiency, energy storage, and smart and secure microgrids for electricity. The attached memo provides additional examples of these efforts and the policies that drive energy security and innovation.
These strategic investments are cutting costs for the treasury, reducing strategic vulnerability, and creating jobs in emerging industries across the U.S. economy. These efforts should be sustained, supported, and enhanced in coming years by the future secretary of defense, the administration, and Congress.
Bracken Hendricks is a Senior Fellow, Daniel J. Weiss is a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy, and Lisbeth Kaufman is a Special Assistant on the Energy Opportunity team at American Progress.
It has become a common theme among right-wing politicians and pundits that civilian commanders should ultimately defer to the military when making decisions about wars, such as whether to draw down the U.S. troop presence in Iraq or Afghanistan. This mentality was expressed by, for example, Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY) when the congressman said during the debate over the escalation in Afghanistan that “the decision [about escalating] needs to come from people best suited — that’s the generals who are giving recommendations to the administration.”
Last night, during the GOP presidential primary debate, former Massachussetts Gov. Mitt Romney expressed this belief. In response to a question from a retired Navy serviceman about when the U.S. will leave Afghanistan, Romney said that when the troops in Afghanistan come home shouldn’t be a matter of “politics,” but rather be determined by the generals on the ground. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) disagreed, saying that if he was president, he’d be the commander-in-chief and it’s the president that makes the decisions:
ROMNEY: I think we’ve learned some important lessons in our experience in Afghanistan. I want those troops to come home based upon not politics, not based upon economics, but instead based upon the conditions on the ground determined by the generals. [...]
KING: Congressman Paul, do you agree with that decision?
PAUL: Not quite. I served five years in the military. I’ve had a little experience. I’ve spent a little time over in the Pakistan/Afghanistan area, as well as Iran. But I wouldn’t wait for my generals. I’m the commander in chief. I make the decisions. I tell the generals what to do. I’d bring them home as quickly as possible. And I would get them out of Iraq as well. And I wouldn’t start a war in Libya. I’d quit bombing Yemen. And I’d quit bombing Pakistan.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with a president seeking the consultation and advice of military commanders, who are responsible for executing actions on the ground. However, the president is the commander-in-chief and is responsible for making the final decisions about global strategy and whether or not to continue engaging in a war.
Now, Chattanooga, Tennesse’s WRCB TV reports that one of these stunts cost a hard-working gas station employee a day’s pay. Last week, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) showed up at a Raceway gas station to pump gas for a day. Because the congressman was there working that day, there was only room for one additional employee. Raceway employee Justin Lewis, who works 60 hours a week at two Raceways, was forced to stay home and miss a day’s pay. Lewis told WRCB that he doesn’t make a congressman’s hefty $160,000 salary and that he can’t afford to miss a day’s work:
Justin Lewis normally spends Friday mornings behind the counter at the Raceway on Signal Mountain Road. Last week his schedule changed with a call from his employer. “I was told not to come in because Chuck Fleischmann was going to be working my shift,” said Lewis. [...]
“I needed that shift, I don’t make $160,000 a year,” said Lewis, “so missing a shift means a lot to me.” [...] “It’s not a Republican issue, it’s not a Democrat issue,” said Lewis, “our economy is suffering, everybody is suffering, work is hard to find, money doesn’t go as far as it used to.”
Watch an interview with Lewis in WCRB’s report:
“He pulls down a lot of money for his position, and in the state that our country is in right now, I don’t think it’s the time for grandstanding,” Lewis told a local paper. “I’d rather him do his job than mine.”
Compared to Fleischmann’s six-figure salary, the Chattanooga Times reports that the average gas station employee in Tennessee’s 3rd District earns about $17,500 a year.
My CAP colleagues Judy Feder and Nicole Cafarella have an issue brief out today in which they argue that rather than privatizing Medicare and opening it up to “competition,” policy makers should work to extend “Medicare?s effectiveness in containing costs to the private sector.” The Affordable Care Act already sets an “annual target for Medicare per capita spending growth and triggers Medicare payment changes if spending projections indicate the target will be breached” and Feder and Cafarella propose extending this mechanism to the private sector:
What does make sense to achieve further per capita spending reduction is to align the
private sector with the public sector?s commitment to health care payment reform…To slow the per capita growth rate systemwide, policymakers should enact legislation that modifies the target to apply beyond Medicare to private insurance spending and to trigger all-payer payment reform if the target is breached. [...]
Building an effective partnership between public and private payers to slow the cost of
health care across the economy ? not just in Medicare ? will take time. But Medicare
beneficiaries can?t wait, and the Medicare trust fund is exhausted in 2024.
The bottom line is that Medicare is already doing a better job of containing health care costs than private insurers, and Feder and Cafarella suggest building on what works instead of trying something (competition of private insurers) that has never produced any actual savings or been adopted by any other industrialized nation.
ThinkProgress filed this report from the Republican presidential debate in Manchester, New Hampshire
Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has had his struggles with the Constitution lately, confusing it and the Declaration of Independence, misunderstanding a clause about bankruptcy, and failing to grasp the unconstitutionality of religious tests in determining someone’s fitness for employment.
At last night’s GOP primary debate in New Hampshire, Cain stretched his misunderstanding of the Constitution into a new subject: birthright citizenship and the 14th Amendment. During the debate, Cain said the law needed to be changed so children of undocumented immigrants were not granted citizenship upon birth. He elaborated on his position after the debate:
CAIN: The 14th Amendment doesn?t talk about people that were here illegally. The 14th Amendment applies to slaves, black people, and their descendants who were here.
REPORTER: So you’re suggesting that the 14th Amendment does not say that people who are born in this country are naturalized citizens?
CAIN: …It does say people who are born here. But when it was written, it was written in the spirit of the slaves who were brought to this country. It was not written in the spirit of people who came here illegally. That?s where I?m coming from.
While the 14th Amendment was ratified following the Civil War and granted citizenship to blacks and former slaves who had previously not been considered citizens, its language in no way limits its protections to former slaves: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, has ruled that the amendment’s protections extend to anyone under the jurisdiction of the United States, even undocumented immigrants:
…the Fourteenth Amendment extends to anyone, citizen or stranger, who is subject to the laws of a State, and reaches into every corner of a State?s territory. That a person?s initial entry into a State, or into the United States, was unlawful, and that he may for that reason be expelled, cannot negate the simple fact of his presence within the State?s territorial perimeter. (Plyler v. Doe)
Cain said he did not believe in changing the 14th Amendment but wanted to change the law or add an amendment to clarify it, and he pleaded ignorance when asked if he’d support legislation proposed by Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and David Vitter (R-LA) that would significantly narrow the amendment’s scope. But recent polling shows his view is out of touch with primary voters in New Hampshire, where 65 percent of Republicans prefer not to change America’s birthright citizenship laws.
Last night at the GOP debate in New Hampshire, Michele Bachmann announced she was seeking the office of the presidency and declared war on EPA’s ability to protect the public health, saying she would sign “the mother of all repeal bills” targeting “job killing regulations.” She continued: ?And I would begin with the EPA, because there is no other agency like the EPA. It should really be renamed the Job-Killing Organization of America.?
Via Towleroad: “Activist Sean Chapin put together a video reel of the highlights of the rally held yesterday outside the Federal District Court House in San Francisco before the Prop 8 hearing over the preposterous motion to vacate Judge Walker’s ruling because he is gay.” Watch it:
She’s off the hook. Now she can do her celebrity turn, continue to fascinate her fans, but not be bothered with the business of having to think about governing, something Sarah Palin long ago lost interest in. That is not to say that Ms. Palin will[...]
Read The Full Article:
I have no problem with people posting under pseudonyms, but when you claim to be something other than what you actually are to have some instant credibility, that is not acceptable. That is fraud.[...]
Read The Full Article:
...Sarah Palin, for still being the most "dynamic" potential 2012er out there, and Barack Obama, for knowing that short of a Palin or Perry candidacy, he's going to be facing off against one of the unelectable clowns who took the stage last night.Sarah Palin photo credit: Brendan McDermid/Reuters. Pres. Obama: White House.