Clean Energy is Patriotic

A response to a comment that ‘environmentalists are anti-American’.
Top military advisors have repeatedly stated that US dependence on fossil fuels is a serious vulnerability for our national defense for several reasons.
First, the relatively small amount of oil and natural gas reserves on US territory, 4% of the world total, means that the prices and reliable provision of these fuels are not within our control. Wind, solar, geothermal, hydrogen and algae fuel could all be manufactured in America, by Americans, and purchased for American security without giving favors to other countries or obligating us to meet their demands.
Second, the disruption of the climate mostly caused by burning fossil fuels is a threat to peace. Increasing droughts, floods, rising seas, acid oceans and fires are reducing food and water supplies and increasing instability, unrest and pressures to emigrate, a serious pressure on our military.

The cost of fuel is another factor. In 2010, army installations spent $2.1 billion on electricity. A $10 rise in the price of a barrel of oil costs the military an extra billion.A strong American industry manufacturing green energy and efficiency technology would be of great benefit to our military. Changing electricity sources for military installations to clean energy would help scale up the industry and reduce prices.

Finally, there is a safety factor. Installing solar panels and insulation on tents to reduce fuel convoys saves troops’ lives. Reducing use of flammable and polluting fuels is better for our health. 

It is thoroughly American to protect the purity of our waters, the stability of our climate,  and the freedom of consumers to choose new and improved products free from unfair competition by entrenched monopolies.


House Committee Refuses to Hear Climate Facts

All the Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted against holding hearings on  “the role of climate change in causing drought heat waves, wildfires, reduced crop yields and impaired electricity generation”  on Feb 6, 2013


Denial of the science of climate change by members of Congress is a threat to our safety. Rep Waxman, who is calling for hearings on reports that climate impacts require prompt action said, “House Republicans have buried their heads in the sand.  I hope they will realize how out of step they are with the science, the public, and the business community.  We have a moral duty to act to prevent the worst impacts of climate change affecting our children and future generations.”

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, representing parts of Eastern Washington, joined in the vote against climate hearings.

Competitive Green Technology for a Strong America

A U.S. National Intelligence Council report predicts that before 2030 Asia will have more gross domestic product, military spending and technological investment than North America and Europe.

A new study by IEA , “Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report 2012, says that renewable electricity generation should expand by 1,840 TWh between 2011 and 2017, almost 60% above the 1,160 TWh growth registered between 2005 and 2011. Renewable generation will increasingly shift from the OECD to new markets, with non-OECD countries accounting for two-thirds of this growth. Of the 710 GW of new global renewable electricity capacity expected, China accounts for almost 40%.”

Saudi Arabia has announced  that it plans to power 30% of its country’s growing energy needs with solar by 2030 on their sunny deserts.  Now they burn a third of the oil they produce to cool buildings in their 122oF summer months. Their oil, being a lighter crude, has a lower carbon footprint than oil from the Canadian oil sands.

It is time for America to exert its leadership, and turn its formidable talent for innovation and business development to industries that will play a pivotal role in this century’s economy, manufacturing  solar, wind, geothermal, battery, grid and other green technology. The rewards will be high.

The consequence of rejecting this opportunity and continuing to develop coal, oil, and natural gas, is increased  frequency of  record breaking weather events ,  damages to our coastal cities, agriculture, and international social instability. We can do better.

Bipartisan Support for Carbon Tax

Bob Inglis, Former Republican Congressman from South Carolina, and Art Laffer, formerly an economic adviser to President Reagan are promoting a revenue neutral tax swap. Through the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, they are calling for an end to subsidies on all fuels, attachment of full  accountability including health, productivity and environmental costs to all fuels, and revenue neutrality. They see this as a campaign to unleash the power of free enterprise to deliver the fuels of the future and to mitigate the risks of a changing climate.

George Shultz, Secretary of State for President Reagan, has expressed confidence that conservatives will support a carbon tax, because all forms of energy should bear their full costs, and not make society bear the burden of their side effects. . He is leading a group studying  threats to national security and how our energy use affects the climate.

Shultz enjoys driving an electric car powered on sunlight from the solar panels on his house that have long since paid for themselves. In an interview,  he quips, “Take that, Ahmadinejad.” He says, “It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact that the globe warming. That’s why we should be looking at ways to lessen our dependence on oil at all.” “I have three great-grandchildren, and I have to do what I can to see they have a decent future. If we let this go on and on.. they’re not going to have one. “

Green military

A wave strikes the side of USNS Henry J. Kaiser as it conducts a replenishment at sea.

USNS Kaiser delivered 900,000 gallons 50-50 blend biofuels and petroleum-based fuels to USS Nimitz aircraft carrier for Navy’s Great Green Fleet demonstration

Sen James Inhofe (R-Okla) said that the greening of the navy is a waste of money.


We need to systematize military energy use and sources. That was the recommendation of a Department of Defense task force a decade ago. Then in 2008 another task force decried the lack of progress and said that there was a serious need to reduce energy use, increase efficiency, and include more alternative energy. That report for the Department of Defense found that ‘high fuel demand compromised operational effectiveness,’ not just high use of foreign fuel, but high use of all fuel.

On July 18, 2012, the Navy made history.  A carrier strike group with 71 aircraft conducted drills, all run on 50-50 mix of petroleum and biofuel from algae and used cooking oil. Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus and Rear Admiral Tim Barrett of the Royal Australian Navy signed a statement of cooperation on biofuels research and deployment.

The importance of reducing dependence on fossil fuels has been the subject of much military analysis. The DOD spends $1 billion a day on foreign oil. The U.S. has only 3% of known oil reserves; countries with large reserves include Russia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Venezuela. Our dependence on oil entangles us with hostile regimes, weakens our international leverage, and subjects us to high expenses  according to Vice-Admiral Dennis Mcginn.

Although biofuels cost four times as much as oil now, the technology is new and there is the potential for much lower costs with further research.

Clean energy is patriotic

Rooftop solar panels on Ft. Bliss Army installation on April 23, 2012

In February 2010, the Defense Department’s four year strategic planning document, the Quadrennial Defense Review, recognized climate change as a key issue in the future security environment. It declared “Climate change… may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.”

The Department set a goal of meeting 25% of its electric needs with alternative energy by 2020. These solar panels are over a parking lot at Fort Bliss in Texas.

Solar in India

‘U.S. Presses India on Iran Oil Buys’ WSJ, by Amol Shjarma 5/9/2012 reports that the U.S. State Department is pressuring India to further reduce imports of oil from Iran to help persuade it to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
The State Department should promote sales of U.S. made batteries, solar and wind technology to provide India with alternatives to Middle East oil. US made batteries for plug-in hybrids are dropping in cost 18% per year. Prices for solar panels at a recent auction in India are dropping. Solar electricity is expected to be cheaper than fossil fuel based electricity within 3 years.
The $10.3bn investment in solar and other clean energy investment in India in 2011, a 50% increase over the previous year shows a strengthening drive toward the development of truly cheap fuel-free energy, powering industry as well as transportation.
India has a target of $159bn in sales of Indian made vehicles by 2016, but investments have slowed down. The Indian government cut excise duty on conversion kits for vehicles to switch from fuel to hybrid and has proposed customs duty reduction on batteries.
State Department encouragement of battery sales to the Indian market could help India justify reductions in purchases of Iranian oil.