USA — Obama: Energy Initiatives Seek to Bolster Security

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2010 — Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma today announced a series of ener­gy ini­tia­tives, includ­ing plans to expand off-shore drilling, aimed in part at bol­ster­ing nation­al secu­ri­ty by wean­ing the Unit­ed States off for­eign oil.

From inside a hangar at Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Facil­i­ty Wash­ing­ton in Mary­land, against a back­drop of warfight­ing equip­ment pow­ered part­ly by alter­na­tive fuel sources, Oba­ma told a mil­i­tary audi­ence that he chose the venue to under­score envi­ron­men­tal­ly con­scious mea­sures that mil­i­tary lead­ers are spear­head­ing with a view toward long-term U.S. defense inter­ests.

“This is par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­e­vant to all of you who are serv­ing in uni­form. For decades, we’ve talked about the risks to our secu­ri­ty cre­at­ed by our depen­dence on for­eign oil,” Oba­ma said. “But that depen­dence has grown year after year after year.”

In addi­tion to rein­forc­ing nation­al secu­ri­ty, steps announced today to open vast tracts to oil drilling in the east­ern Gulf of Mex­i­co, along the Atlantic Coast and off the north coast of Alas­ka intend to reduce dam­age inflict­ed on the envi­ron­ment and push the Unit­ed States into a posi­tion of lead­er­ship as the clean-ener­gy indus­try takes on a greater share of the glob­al econ­o­my.

Oth­er ini­tia­tives to increase mileage stan­dards and dou­ble the num­ber of hybrid auto­mo­biles in the fed­er­al fleet while reduc­ing the over­all num­ber of vehi­cles would help the coun­try cut its reliance on for­eign oil, Oba­ma said. “Mov­ing toward clean ener­gy is about our secu­ri­ty,” he added.

The pres­i­dent implored a vast cross-sec­tion of Amer­i­can soci­ety — from mil­i­tary per­son­nel and gov­ern­ment civil­ians, to pri­vate- and pub­lic-sec­tor employ­ees — to con­sid­er how to make the Unit­ed States less influ­enced by the agen­das of oil-pro­duc­ing coun­tries.

“It requires each of us … to think about how could we be doing things bet­ter” he said, “how could we be doing things smarter so that we are no longer teth­ered to the whims of what hap­pens some­where in the Mid­dle East or with oth­er major oil-pro­duc­ing nations.”

Oba­ma deliv­ered his remarks from a podi­um placed before two paragons of the Pentagon’s envi­ron­men­tal con­tri­bu­tion: a mod­i­fied F‑18 fight­er jet called the “Green Hor­net” that the Navy hopes soon will be the first air­craft to break the sound bar­ri­er on eco-friend­ly fuel, and a light armored vehi­cle that Army and Marine Corps per­son­nel are attempt­ing to pow­er with a mix­ture of bio­fu­els.

“If there’s any doubt about the lead­er­ship that our mil­i­tary is show­ing, you need only look to this F‑18 fight­er and the light armored vehi­cle behind me,” Oba­ma said. “The Air Force is also test­ing jet engines using bio­fu­els and had the first suc­cess­ful bio­fu­el-pow­ered test flight just last week.”

Oba­ma praised Navy Sec­re­tary Ray Mabus, whose stat­ed goal is to use 50-per­cent alter­na­tive fuel in all planes, vehi­cles, and ships by the next decade, and cit­ed the Defense Department’s $2.7 bil­lion invest­ment in fis­cal 2010 to improve ener­gy effi­cien­cy.

“Now, the Pen­ta­gon isn’t seek­ing these alter­na­tive fuels just to pro­tect our envi­ron­ment; they are pur­su­ing these home­grown ener­gy sources to pro­tect our nation­al secu­ri­ty,” Oba­ma said. “Our mil­i­tary lead­ers rec­og­nize the secu­ri­ty imper­a­tive of increas­ing the use of alter­na­tive fuels, decreas­ing ener­gy use, and reduc­ing our reliance on import­ed oil.”

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