The Washington Post article quoted Nicole Lederer, a co-founder of NRDC's sister organization Environmental Entrepreneurs -- a group of 850 companies that advocate for smart environmental policies. Many of E2's members are in the clean energy sector, and they have welcomed the chance to partner with the Pentagon, especially after Congress failed to pass comprehensive clean energy legislation. Lederer said, "When one door closed, a big window opened with the Department of Defense."
Back in the spring, I attended a conference celebrating E2's 10th anniversary, and I remember hearing Jerry Fiddler, the chairman of Solazyme, talk about the fuel his company produced from algae. Solazyme was delivering more than 100,000 gallons of ship diesel and jet fuel to the Navy, and Fiddler said the military made a great customer for a clean energy start-up because it's a large, knowledgeable, and demanding technological partner. Satisfying the Navy's needs, he said, has helped him commercialize his innovative product.
NRDC is also partnering with the Department of Defense to help expedite the siting process for renewable energy projects near DOD facilities and ensure that both environmental and military considerations are taken into account. We are also working to expand the use of certified sustainable biofuels as an alternative to petroleum and promote energy efficiency and sustainability goals at DOD facilities.
These projects and all the DOD's clean energy programs provide something that Congress has failed to offer: a clear, long-range market signal for clean energy investment. Secretary Mabus said, "The thing I want to attack the most is [that] this is some sort of far or flavor of the moment."
Instead, clean energy is the future, and the Pentagon is starting to build it right now.
This article originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard Blog, and is reprinted with permission.
Photo, from the German Defense Forces, CC-licensed by funky1opti.