USA — Department Hailed as Leader in ‘Green’ Movement

WASHINGTON — In a pre­lude to this week’s Earth Day events, a major inde­pen­dent research group today called the Defense Depart­ment a leader in ener­gy con­ser­va­tion. “The depart­ment is doing more than sound­ing an alarm; it has enact­ed ener­gy goals and is invent­ing, test­ing and deploy­ing new tech­nolo­gies and alter­na­tive fuels to meet those goals,” Phyl­lis Cut­ti­no, direc­tor of Pew Char­i­ta­ble Trusts’ cli­mate and ener­gy pro­grams, said dur­ing a con­fer­ence call to announce the program’s new report on mil­i­tary use and con­ser­va­tion of ener­gy.

“The mil­i­tary is, in many respects, lead­ing the way and help­ing to re-ener­gize America’s future,” she said.

The depart­ment is a prime con­sumer, Cut­ti­no not­ed, account­ing for 80 per­cent of the U.S. government’s ener­gy con­sump­tion, amount­ing to 330,000 bar­rels of oil and 3.8 bil­lion kilo­watts of elec­tric­i­ty per day for more than 500 major mil­i­tary instal­la­tions. But, she said, it is on its way to meet­ing its stat­ed goal of hav­ing 25 per­cent of its ener­gy come from renew­able sources by 2025.

The report, “Reen­er­giz­ing America’s Defense: How the Armed Forces Are Step­ping For­ward to Com­bat Cli­mate Change and Improve U.S. Ener­gy Pos­ture,” out­lines how the depart­ment and mil­i­tary ser­vices are mov­ing toward that goal. As with the cre­ation of the Inter­net and glob­al posi­tion­ing tech­nol­o­gy, the depart­ment is lead­ing the effort in dis­cov­er­ing ways to not only use less fuel, but also to use alter­na­tive fuels to reduce green­house gasses and be less reliant on for­eign oil, the report says.

Aman­da J. Dory, deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for strat­e­gy; Navy Sec­re­tary Ray Mabus; and John W. Warn­er, a for­mer Navy sec­re­tary and U.S. sen­a­tor from Vir­ginia, took part in the report and the con­fer­ence call. They described the department’s efforts at ener­gy con­ser­va­tion and inno­va­tion as impor­tant to both nation­al secu­ri­ty and the envi­ron­ment. “The Depart­ment of Defense takes cli­mate change seri­ous­ly,” Dory said, adding that depart­ment offi­cials have “embraced” con­ser­va­tion in poli­cies and law, includ­ing acqui­si­tions. Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates iden­ti­fied ener­gy as one of the department’s top 25 trans­for­ma­tion­al pri­or­i­ties, and the Qua­dren­ni­al Defense Review, released Feb. 1, is the first strate­gic doc­u­ment to give “thor­ough treat­ment” to ener­gy issues, Dory said.

Depart­ment offi­cials rec­og­nize the link between cli­mate change and glob­al requests for U.S. mil­i­tary assis­tance, Dory said. In 2008 and 2009, the mil­i­tary had 120 requests to assist with nat­ur­al dis­as­ters such as hur­ri­canes and wild fires in the Unit­ed States, as well as 54 requests to respond to over­seas nat­ur­al dis­as­ters last year, she said.

Mabus said the Navy his­tor­i­cal­ly has been a leader in ener­gy changes – from sails to coal, from coal to fuel, and from fuel to nuclear ener­gy.

“Every sin­gle time,” he said, “it made our Navy and our Marine Corps more effi­cient and bet­ter fight­ers, and we’re absolute­ly con­fi­dent that it will be the case again this time.” By 2020, Navy offi­cials plan to have half of the service’s fuel use, both ashore and afloat, come from non-fos­sil sources, Mabus said. Offi­cials expect to cut fuel con­sump­tion for the Navy’s 50,000 non­com­bat vehi­cles with alter­na­tive meth­ods with­in five years, he said.

The decreas­ing reliance on fos­sil fuels “will make us bet­ter warfight­ers,” Mabus said, both strate­gi­cal­ly by reduc­ing depen­dence on oil from volatile nations, and tac­ti­cal­ly by free­ing up warfight­ers from deliv­er­ing as much fuel and reduc­ing the high-risk of attacks on con­voys that car­ry it.

Cut­ti­no not­ed that 70 per­cent of ton­nage shipped to the Iraqi war effort is fuel and water.

In Afghanistan, Mabus said, troops are using solar-pow­ered water purifi­ca­tion sys­tems to reduce the use of fos­sil fuels and the need to haul water. Marines there are using things such as spray-on insu­la­tion to keep tents warm in win­ter and cool in sum­mer, and Marines at Marine Corps Base Quan­ti­co in Vir­ginia are test­ing alter­na­tive fuels and oth­er prod­ucts to reduce the need to ship fuel to Afghanistan, he said.

Mabus gave oth­er exam­ples of how the Navy is going “green”:

— The Navy is devel­op­ing a “green” car­ri­er strike group to run com­plete­ly on alter­na­tive fuels by 2016, and this week plans to do a flight demon­stra­tion of the “Green Hor­net,” an F‑18 Super Hor­net pow­ered by a 50/50 bio­fu­el blend.

— The Navy last year com­mis­sioned the USS Makin Island, a large-deck amphibi­ous ship pro­pelled by both gas and elec­tric engines, expect­ed to save the ser­vice $25 mil­lion over the ship’s life­time.

— Naval Air Weapons Sta­tion Chi­na Lake, Calif. – the service’s largest land hold­ing – is being pow­ered sole­ly by geot­her­mal sources and has pro­duced enough geot­her­mal ener­gy to pro­vide for the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ty.

The Air Force also is test­ing bio­fu­els on its A‑10 Thun­der­bolt II and expects to have the Air Force Acad­e­my off the pub­lic elec­tri­cal grid by 2012, Dory said. And Army offi­cials in North Car­oli­na, Wash­ing­ton state and Hawaii are work­ing on trans­porta­tion pat­terns to reduce sin­gle-occu­pan­cy vehi­cles, she said.

“Every­where you go, you see that the Amer­i­can GI is fig­ur­ing out how to save ener­gy,” Warn­er said. “Every base in the coun­try has a plan to save ener­gy. This whole Defense Depart­ment is mobi­lized and think­ing green and I salute their efforts.”

Warn­er said he saw how short­ages of food and water from cli­mate change led to insta­bil­i­ty in places such as Soma­lia and Liberia, lead­ing to U.S. mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion.

“Ener­gy depen­dence and cli­mate change are clear­ly emerg­ing as added chal­lenges com­pli­cat­ing and expand­ing poten­tial mis­sions for our mil­i­tary,” he wrote in the report. “Yet, once again, our armed forces are prepar­ing to lead in address­ing exist­ing and emerg­ing nation­al secu­ri­ty chal­lenges.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)