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 Why Going Green is Pro-Military

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PostSubject: Why Going Green is Pro-Military   6/14/2012, 8:17 am

The Real Reason the Military is Going Green

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Air Force cargo planes drop barrels of fuel to remote bases in Afghanistan to avoid dangerous land-based fuel convoys. This makes each barrel cost up to $400, and is a major reason the Pentagon is working to cut down the military’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Retired Brig. Gen. Steven Anderson calls himself “an accidental environmentalist.”

His epiphany about climate change started with a tactical problem. In 2006 and 2007, when he served as the military’s chief logistician in Iraq, he coordinated the transport of millions of gallons of fuel across the country to power everything from vehicles to the large compressors used to cool individual tents—or, as Anderson puts it, for “air conditioning the desert.” He was taking one casualty for every 24 fuel convoys, and he was doing 18 convoys a day. That’s one casualty every other day. He needed to get the trucks off the road. He needed to find a way to reduce the military’s fuel use.

Anderson, who reported to General David Petraeus, said,

There’s a direct relationship between energy and the military. The more energy consumed, the less effective you are militarily because you’re more vulnerable. They love to take out our field trucks. They make a big boom when they do.

Since then, Anderson, like many military leaders, has realized that guzzling oil makes the United States vulnerable in other ways.

I’m a soldier. Why should I be concerned about climate change? Climate change brings about global instability. That makes the world more vulnerable and it’s more likely that soldiers like myself will have to fight and die somewhere.

Never mind D.C. conservatives who claim to be tough on defense and suspicious of climate science: The Department of Defense isn’t denying that climate change is a major national security threat. “The change is happening. It’s just a reality,” said retired Marine Col. Mark Mykleby, a former strategy assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “Science tells us it’s coming our way.”

The Defense Department first acknowledged climate change as a factor in its operations in its 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review. “[Climate change] may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world,” read the report.

Now the military is going green. Taking fuel trucks off the road. Developing solar energy.

Their reasons are strategic, not altruistic. “The Department of Defense is involved in this area for national security reasons,” said Dan Nolan, co-author of the blogspot blog DoD Energy, which monitors the department’s positions on energy use. “It’s not economic. It’s not environmental. It’s a national security mission.”

But the message is clear. From the most practical standpoint, the US can’t afford to ignore climate change or rely heavily on fossil fuels any longer. The question remains, can the weight and pragmatism of military leadership sway political leaders in Washington?

Yeah, I wonder how the see no sea level rise/hear no sea level rise Republicans are handling it:

Republicans try to force the military to use dirty energy it doesn’t want

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The U.S. military recognizes that dependence on fossil fuels is a threat to U.S. strategic influence and its own operational effectiveness. With that in mind, it’s trying to make itself lighter and leaner, reducing energy consumption at bases and on the battlefield while working to develop fuel alternatives for its ship and plane fleets. Republicans have been quietly grumbling about this for a while; now they are openly opposing it. The GOP wastes no opportunity to boast of “supporting the troops,” but that support apparently ends where Big Oil contributions begin.

Let’s look at a few examples, shall we?

GOP tries to block use of cleaner fuels

Last week, the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee proposed a new Pentagon budget. Tucked away inside it was a provision that would prohibit the Department of Defense from buying any alternative fuels that cost more than conventional fossil fuels.

. . .

It would effectively prohibit military field-testing of any non-fossil fuel. After all, if alternatives were already cheaper than fossil fuels, they wouldn’t be alternatives. The Air Force couldn’t experiment with fuel blends for its jets. The Army couldn’t fuel its “Green Warrior Convoy.” This provision would explicitly ban the military from being an instrument of energy innovation.

. . .

GOP tries to push use of dirtier fuel

But wait! There is one expensive alternative fuel that congressional Republicans support.

. . .

Republicans have seized on the idea of using the Fischer-Tropsch process to convert coal to liquid fuel (a technology made famous by Hitler — don’t tell the Heartland Institute). Building a plant to do this requires enormous capital investment, running one requires enormous operational and maintenance investments, and the result is … fuel more expensive than oil. This is to say nothing of the fact that it requires mining and transporting coal on the front end and releases up to 2.5 times as much CO2 as oil when burned.


Senate Republicans join House in second-guessing military leaders on biofuels

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Earlier this week, I wrote about the Republican-led House Armed Services Committee voting through a provision that would kill the U.S. military’s ambitious biofuels program. Last night, the Senate Armed Services Committee did the same, and worse. It voted not only to block purchase of any fuel more expensive than fossil fuels, but to “prohibit the construction of a biofuels refinery or any other facility or infrastructure used to refine biofuels unless the requirement is specifically authorized by law.”

I wasn't aware of any of this until I stumbled upon this interview with the author of the above articles. He wrote another article that's part of a dialogue on the military and clean energy being hosted by National Journal that's worth checking out, if only to read the two artciles that are wary of such energy programs (and hilariously warning of the "clean energy agenda's" "trojan horse"). Is it any surprise to see that the two contrarians work for the global warming denying George Marshall Institute and the Heritage Foundation? Meaty.

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If you were cynical, you’d almost think that the issue had nothing to do with Congress’s relationship with the military, or with costs. You’d almost think Republicans just support fossil fuels and oppose clean energy, no matter the context.

"Pro-military" seems to mean little beyond flag pins and yellow ribbons.
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