Sep 27, 2012
– Testimony of Mike Breen
Chairman Correa, Chairwoman Pavley, members of the Committee, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for inviting me to appear before this joint Committee today to discuss the critical importance of clean energy development to our national security.
I come before you first and foremost as a fellow citizen, deeply concerned about the future prosperity and security of our great nation. I serve as the Vice President of the Truman National Security Project, a leadership institute dedicated to forging strong, smart, and principled national security policy for America. As a former Army Captain and an Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran, I am also proud to be one of the leaders of Operation Free, a bi-partisan, nationwide coalition of patriotic veterans who stand together in the common belief that climate change and our dependence on oil pose clear national security threats to the United States.
To be clear, oil is immensely important to our economy and will remain so for the foreseeable future. It has helped fuel the biggest economic expansion in the history of the world. And its value goes far beyond its utility as a liquid fuel. Petroleum is a key input in advanced manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products, and a host of other applications. Unfortunately, however, our near-total dependence on oil as a fuel has eclipsed petroleum’s other contributions, threatening our prosperity and security.
A consensus of national security leaders, including five Secretaries of Defense, two Chairmen of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of the Army, three Secretaries of the Navy, and three Secretaries of the Air Force, have stated that oil’s status as a strategic commodity undermines U.S. national security and weakens the U.S. economy.
The veterans of Operation Free have seen the consequences of our dependence on oil first-hand, on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. As a young Lieutenant on my first combat tour, in Iraq, I served on an isolated fighting camp south of Baghdad in an area known as the “Triangle of Death.” My unit was entirely dependent on a daily fuel convoy to power our generators and fuel our vehicles. Recognizing this, Iraqi insurgents consistently ambushed the convoys while my infantry company fought to protect them – leading to almost daily firefights we jokingly called “fighting for our supper.” The insurgents had recognized a crucial weakness, one that Osama bin Laden referred to as America’s “Achilles heel”: our dependence on oil as a single source of fuel.
The Department of Defense, as the largest institutional consumer of oil in the world, is acutely vulnerable to the volatile global oil market. Every time the price of oil rises by $10 a barrel, the DoD is left with a $1.3 billion bill. Since DoD purchases fuel from its Operations and Maintenance budgets, these unexpected budget shortfalls are paid for by reprogramming funds from training and maintenance. In conversations with retired military leaders, I’ve heard story after story of fighter pilots having their flight hours cut to minimum readiness standards and ships left in port for training exercises, all because the respective unit’s fuel budgets were disrupted by price increases.
The military’s vulnerability to spikes in the price of oil is endemic of the U.S. economy generally. Even with U.S. oil demand leveling off over the past five years, the country still accounts for 22 percent of global demand, and oil still powers more than 95 percent of our transportation sector. Shackled to a single source of fuel, we must expend significant resources to secure supply lines in unstable geopolitical regions like the Persian Gulf. According to a RAND Corporation study, the U.S. military spends as much as $84 billion annually in operational costs to keep open the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic chokepoint for oil supplies in the Persian Gulf.
Fortunately, the military is leading the way to develop the next generation of energy solutions and taking aggressive steps to reduce its dependence on petroleum fuel. The Navy is developing advanced biofuels that can be dropped into its ships and aircraft. The Army is developing a hybrid-electric drivetrain Humvee that delivers the same performance, power, and protection but with 90 percent better fuel efficiency. The Marine Corps has reduced the number of dangerous fuel convoys needed to supply forward operating bases in Afghanistan by using solar blankets and solar tents to recharge the batteries that power their equipment.
From idea to design to deployment, California has proved an essential partner in the military’s clean energy initiatives. The Navy purchased 450,000 gallons of biofuels refined from algae and recycled waste oil- the largest purchase of advanced biofuels in government history- from Solazyme, a northern California company. The solar blankets that proved their mettle in remote outposts in Afghanistan were developed by Iris Technology in Irvine. And many of the innovations that are saving lives in the field were first deployed at the Experimental Forward Operating Base in Twentynine Palms, CA.
The military’s push to change its energy posture was started under a Republican administration and has enjoyed broad bipartisan support. But recently, certain members of Congress have attempted to block the military’s clean energy initiatives, complaining that in an age of austerity we can’t afford these investments in a more secure energy future. These complaints are shortsighted and misguided. History teaches that military innovation has always been crucial to maintaining a dominant fighting force. American history is no different: GPS, night vision and the microchip have helped assure our military superiority on the battlefield. All of these inventions were expensive initially, yet Congress and military leaders had the foresight to invest in emerging capabilities. Had Congress prohibited DoD from exploring navigational aids more expensive than a compass a few decades ago, we would not have GPS.
By attempting to block these investments in clean energy development these members of Congress are putting partisan politics ahead of our national security. A better example has been set by California- including members of the Committees represented today. Senate Bill 1409 (SB 1409), which Governor Brown signed into law today [yesterday?] and was sponsored by Chairwoman Pavley and Chairman Correa, is an important step forward for our energy security and received tremendous bipartisan support in the Assembly and Senate.
SB 1409 ensures that California and the DoD coordinate closely to implement clean energy policies. This landmark law empowers the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to serve as a liaison between state government agencies and the DoD on clean energy projects and policies- a tremendous boost for California companies competing over contracts to develop the next generation of energy solutions for the battlefield. SB 1409 ensures that the State of California capitalizes on every opportunity to assist the Department of Defense in advancing our nation’s energy security objectives, creating new jobs and achieving California’s clean energy goals in the process.
In pursuing clean energy innovation, the DoD has created a blueprint for the rest of the country to follow. In the same way, California- as the country’s largest clean energy economy- should serve as an example for other states to adopt. By implementing forward-thinking legislation like SB1409 and AB 32, California has adopted the aggressive, attainable, and technology-neutral standards that best encourage the innovation and entrepreneurship that this state has always been known for.
We must keep carrying on the fight. California, as it has so many times before, is leading the way to develop new technologies that are changing the way we get energy. You must continue to lead us on the path to develop a clean energy economy that ensures our future prosperity and security.
Aug 28, 2012
Cutting Dependence on Oil will Make U.S. Stronger, More Secure
Washington, DC – In response to the new national gas mileage standard of 54.5-mpg by 2025, which was adopted today, Operation Free Advocacy Director Brandon Fureigh released the following statement:
“This national effort to boost gas mileage to 54.5-mpg is a key step in tackling our dangerous demand for oil. We currently send more than a billion dollars a day to other countries to buy oil. Too much of that money ends up in the hands of people who don’t share our values or have our best interests in mind. And every time the price of a barrel of crude oil goes up by $5, Iran gets an additional $7.9 billion a year.
“Under the new gas mileage standards, by 2025 we will cut our oil consumption by 2.2 million barrels a day—equal to half of the oil we now import from OPEC. Making the cars and trucks on America’s roads go farther on a gallon of gas will save Americans $80 billion at the pump every year by 2030 and create 150,000 jobs.
“We applaud this forward-looking policy for providing a boost to the long-term security and economy of the United States.”
Operation Free is a nationwide coalition of military veterans working to secure America with clean energy. Learn more at OperationFree.net. Operation Free is a campaign of the Truman National Security Project.
Media Relations Director
Truman National Security Project
Office: 202.216.9723 ext 320
Aug 28, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will hold an on-the-record conference call without embargo on Tuesday, August 28, at 12:30PM ET to discuss a major fuel efficiency announcement.
Ray LaHood, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation
Lisa P. Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator
On-the-record conference call without embargo to discuss major fuel efficiency announcement
Tuesday, August 28, 2012. 12:30PM ET
Media who want to attend this call should dial (800) 230-1951 and ask to join the “White House call.” No passcode is necessary.
Aug 28, 2012
By David Shepardson
Washington — The Obama administration has finalized the landmark 2017-25 fuel economy rules that will nearly double the efficiency of the nation’s cars and trucks over the next 13 years to a fleetwide average of 54.5 miles per gallon.
The new rules will reshape what Americans drive — and may prod automakers to add fuel saving technologies at a faster rate. The rules also give automakers credits for building hybrid light trucks and adding fuel saving features that the government didn’t take into account in prior years.
The White House Office of Management and Budget said in a notice posted Tuesday morning that it had cleared the fuel economy rules on Monday. Auto lobbyists say the administration plans a 12:30 p.m. call Tuesday on the finalized rules.
The Obama administration initially planned to finalize the rule by July 31, but the final regulation has been held up by an extensive White House review.
Last summer, the Obama administration won the support of 13 major automakers, including Detroit’s Big Three, for the 2017-25 rules, which will cost the industry $157.3 billion, according to the preliminary proposal.
Aug 24, 2012
New CAFE average will make economy more stable and create new jobs
With election-year headlines trumpeting deep political divisions nationwide and partisan paralysis in Washington, the last thing you might expect to see is a major change in federal energy policy.
Yet, that is exactly what is about to happen-with the support of automakers and unions, national security leaders and consumer groups, and a host of other backers on the right and left of America’s political chasm. Any day now, the U.S. will finalize a federal fuel-economy standard of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by the year 2025, one that was largely agreed upon earlier this year.
Why has this effort attracted broad support where so many other worthy efforts have fallen prey to partisan bickering? I think the number one reason is that the vast majority of Americans, no matter their political leanings, understand that our nation’s dependence on oil is a serious problem that must be addressed now.
Sherwood “Sherry” Boehlert is a Republican and former Congressman, representing Central New York State in the U.S. House of Representatives for 12 terms.