Continuing Current U.S. Energy Policy Called 'Perilous'

Continuing Current U.S. Energy Policy Called 'Perilous'

As the political wrangling continues this week over the details of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, a new report from a dozen retired U.S. military leaders warns maintaining the country's current energy stance poses significant risks to its national security.
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Dependence on fossil fuels and the vulnerable energy grid threaten the country and its military, according to “Powering America's Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security,” from the Military Advisory Board (MAB) of nonprofit research firm CNA. The report focuses on how current energy policies intersect with climate change and national security, calling the country's present trajectory “perilous.”

Among the conclusions:
• The U.S. uses a quarter of the world’s oil but only controls 3 percent, leading to a dependence that undermines its foreign policy objectives and economic stability.

• Climate change will foster instability in already politically unstable regions. Dwindling fossil fuel reserves will face additional costs from an increase in demand and future regulations put in place for carbon-intensive fuels

• The military is overly reliant on fossil fuels but uses them inefficiently, undermining effectiveness and exacting a human and economic toll. The Department of Defense should understand its own carbon footprint, correct inefficiencies and adopt renewable energy where possible

• The U.S. electricity grid is vulnerable and represents a “weak link” in national security infrastructure. The U.S. and Department of Defense should pursue smart grid technologies.
• The panel recommends the Department of Defense integrate energy security and climate change targets into national security and military planning processes.
In a statement, Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Charles F. "Chuck" Wald, who is also chairman of MAB, called the assessment sobering but necessary.

"As military planners and as responsible public servants we cannot turn a blind eye to the dangerous realities of our energy situation,” Wald said. “The current recession is no excuse for inaction. If we don't address the fossil fuel issue now, we will see more price volatility, with steeper spikes and shorter cycles between spikes. We are already paying a penalty for not looking into the future."

A 2007 MAB report, "National Security and the Threat of Climate Change," concluded climate change on its own poses a series of significant security risks for the U.S. over the next 40 years, such as an increase in immigration, humanitarian disasters, and fallout from its impact on developing countries.

Oil drums image CC licensed by Flickr user jesssloss.