March 27, 2012

Whitehouse, Sanders Hold Hearing on Military Investments in Clean Energy

Washington, DC – Today, with gas prices near record highs across the country, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) held a joint hearing to examine how our armed forces are working to diversify our nation’s fuel supply and become more energy efficient, and how the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is assisting in these efforts.

The hearing was entitled “Oversight Hearing on EPA’s Work with Other Federal Entities to Reduce Pollution and Improve Environmental Performance,” and was held under the joint jurisdiction of Whitehouse’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Subcommittee on Oversight, and Sanders’ EPW Subcommittee on Green Jobs and the New Economy.

“A quiet transformation is taking place in our armed services, a clean energy transformation,” said Whitehouse.  “Our men and women in uniform are working to reduce demand for fuel convoys through enemy territory, make our military bases less dependent on the grid, and test alternative jet fuels that will lessen our dependence on Middle East oil…  Moreover, the U.S. military understands that greenhouse gas pollution from these fuels is driving global climate change, and that this change has major security implications.”

“The military understands that global warming is real, but for the military, investing in energy efficiency and sustainable energy is not just about reducing greenhouse gas emissions” Sanders said.  “It is about protecting our soldiers in the field, where estimates show that 1 of every 24 fuel resupply convoys in Afghanistan resulted in a U.S. casualty, and 1 of every 8 soldiers killed in Iraq was protecting a fuel convoy.  That is why it is good news that the military has developed innovative solar-powered bases with energy storage that can diminish or eliminate the need for convoys, reducing the risks to our troops.  With the Department of Defense being the largest single consumer of energy in the United States, energy efficiency and sustainable energy investments at military facilities are also creating savings for the taxpayer.”

Witnesses testifying at the hearing were Ms. Leslie Gillespie-Marthaler, Senior Advisor at the Office of Research and Development at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mr. Richard G. Kidd, IV, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy and Sustainability at the United States Army, Thomas W. Hicks, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy at the United States Navy, and Dr.  Kevin Geiss, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy at the United States Air Force.

In October 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order #13524 (EO), calling for the federal government to undertake energy efficiency efforts.  As directed by the EO, Federal agencies set a number of sustainability targets, including greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets which amount to a 28% reduction below 2008 levels by 2020.  The Department of Defense pledged the most ambitious reductions of any agency.

Just last week, the Army announced it was partnering with industry to deploy up to $7 billion in renewable energy resources – wind, solar, and geothermal – on its bases.  This announcement is the Army’s latest effort to meet its goal of producing 25% of its energy needs through renewable energy by 2025.  The U.S. Air Force is an award winning member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnerships Program – in fiscal year 2011, this military branch had about 194 renewable energy projects on 71 sites either in operation or under construction.  The U.S. Navy has set a goal of producing at least 50% of its onshore energy needs from alternative sources by 2020.

“The Army requires secure and uninterrupted access to energy.  Investment in energy capabilities, including renewable energy and energy efficient technologies will help ensure the Army can meet mission requirements today and into the future,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Kidd.  “Reducing energy use across the Army is mission critical, operationally necessary and financially prudent.”


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