Republicans in Congress are working to block the military from developing biofuels that will save lives and save money by reducing the military’s dependence on oil.1
This is brazen — even for the GOP. As Congress works to finalize the defense budget, we need to call out Republicans’ attempts to keep the military locked into dirty, dangerous energy.
We know that as a whole, our dependence on oil is a threat to our national security and well-being, both in terms of our dependence on hostile regimes and the rapid escalation of climate change.
But for the military, the costs of oil dependence are far more acute. One in eight troop casualties in Iraq came as a result of protecting fuel convoys, according to a 2009 study by the military.2 And the rising price of oil will put the military more than $3 billion over budget this year, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said earlier this month.3
So it only makes sense that the military, as our nation’s largest and most demanding energy user, would seek alternatives to ever more costly fossil-fuel, whose transportation and defense represents a clear point of vulnerability for our soldiers. Everyone from the President, to military leadership4, to the airline industry5 agrees.
But not the oil-money soaked Republican party. Earlier this month, the House passed a 2013 defense budget which included provisions that would block the military from purchasing, developing and even testing biofuels. And last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee — with the help of Dirty Democrats Sens. Jim Webb and Joe Manchin — followed suit.6 But if we raise enough pressure, there’s still time to strike these provisions from the final bill on the Senate floor.
Republicans claim these provisions are about the costs of alternative fuels, but immediately undermined that hollow claim by passing a resolution to promote the use of expensive and filthy coal-to-liquid fuel.
It is literally sick that oil industry campaign contributions to Republicans could so successfully maintain the vicious cycle of our continued dependence on oil, which creates the need to engage with hostile nations, which endangers our troops in military operations, which require even more fossil fuel transported at higher costs and greater risk to military personnel, (all while speeding catastrophic climate change.)
Republicans love to talk about “supporting the troops.” We need to remind them that that should mean our soldiers in harm’s way, not oil industry lobbyists.
1. “Republicans try to force the military to use dirty energy it doesn’t want,” Grist, 5/29/12
2. “For the military clean energy saves lives,” CNN, 8/17/11
3. “Panetta warns climate change having ‘dramatic impact’ on national security,” The Hill, 5/4/12
4. “15 Military Leaders Who Say Climate Change Is A National Security Threat,” Media Matters, 5/30/12
5. “Airlines, Farm Groups Petition Senate for Military Biofuels,” Clean Technica, 5/26/2012
6. “Senate blocks biofuel development in draft defense bill,” 5/25/12