• Truman Doctrine: 7 Real Consequences of Climate Change as told by the Pentagon

    Since the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Department of Defense has declared global climate change a “threat multiplier,” exacerbating the challenges the U.S. military faces at home and abroad. Check out the seven examples below, and then be sure to read the DoD’s 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap—a new Pentagon plan for adapting to and mitigating these serious security issues.

    1. More frequent and intense severe weather abroad will require disaster relief efforts, increasing requests for U.S. assistance.

    Disaster relief efforts are a key way that the U.S. military helps others and builds national credibility abroad. According to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, the DoD already receives one request for humanitarian assistance every two weeks. An increase in the number of these missions—like 5,000 sailors and 80 aircraft providing relief after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines or 9,000 patients treated and 3.5 million tons of cargo distributed to the victims of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake—will spread forces and resources thin around the globe.

    2. Prolonged droughts here at home will affect base operations, decreasing the readiness of our troops.

    Millions of Americans have already felt firsthand the effects of longer and more extreme droughts, and the military is no exception. Essential training exercises that involve live ammunition have been suspended for months on end due to fire risk, meaning that troops are not getting the preparation they need. Moreover, U.S. Northern Command has had to redirect personnel and resources to countering wildfires that threaten civilian populations at home.

    3.  Scarce resources will threaten to collapse weak governments, strengthening extremist groups.

    Photo Credit: Mohamed Othman

    Unfortunately, the governments most likely to be affected by climate change are those least equipped to handle the consequences. Current conflicts in Mali, Yemen, and Somalia, demonstrate that extremist groups can gain a foothold in weak states when they provide basic services to poor populations. This “radical altruism” of groups like the Afghan Taliban explains how destitute populations are willing to tolerate—at least initially—very draconian social agendas in exchange for sanitation, food and clean water, and even a basic framework for the rule of law.

    4.  Warming temperatures will increase the range of tropical diseases, spurring more global health crises.

    At least 4,000 people around the world have already died from the recent Ebola outbreak. However, rising temperatures and changing rain patterns are allowing subtropical diseases like Dengue Fever, West Nile Virus, and Lyme disease to expand beyond their traditional regions, and the World Health Organization estimates that a global temperature increase of just 2 or 3 degrees could lead to several hundred million more people being at risk for Malaria. As the U.S. military is essential for disease-mitigation relief efforts, this will be a substantial burden.

    5.  Changing weather patterns will spur migration, sparking increased sectarian conflict and increasing urban poverty.

    Changing weather patterns are affecting diverse populations, including coastal residents who want to move inland and rural poor who seek the economic opportunities of city life. In Pakistan, farmers are flocking to cities as their land becomes unusable, while Bangladesh could see as many as 18 million residents displaced by 2050. Climate change has been linked to migration, and the internal movement of large numbers of people will test the infrastructure of cities and the ability of governments to provide economic opportunities for new arrivals.

    6.  Rising ocean tides and other climate change consequences will damage military facilities here, costing an already budget-constrained military millions of dollars in mitigation efforts.

    A 2008 National Intelligence Council report indicated that more than 30 of our military sites will require significant adaptation measures to stave off the effects of rising sea levels alone. Necessary construction so far has included reinforcing foundations, building taller piers, and constructing barriers on land and out at sea. Thankfully, steps are being taken to mitigate this problem; bases are working with community leaders to find comprehensive solutions.


    7.  Melting in Polar Regions will open new sea lines of communication (SLOCs), prompting international competition for Arctic resources.

    Levels of Arctic Sea ice have been in decline since 1979, with melts coming sooner and freezes not covering as much geographic area as usual.  Russia’s claims of sovereignty over the rapidly expanding Northern Sea Route set the stage for further tension with the United States and European Union given the commercial benefits of a shortened passage. Moreover, melting also opens up more strategic points and passages that the Navy and Coast Guard will be required to patrol in order to protect U.S. shipping interests.

  • Your Opportunity to Secure our Future

    Take a look around the world. Everywhere you turn you’ll find a geopolitical mess at the intersection of energy, climate change, and global security. From airstrikes on oil fields and refineries in Iraq and Syria controlled by the Islamic State to natural gas crises in Ukraine and the European Union compromising negotiations with Vladimir Putin to flooding in heavily disputed Kashmir, the stakes for our energy and climate future have never been higher.

    Concerns like these are what brought hundreds of thousands of climate activists to New York to voice their support for climate action. They were joined by more than 125 other heads of state, more than 100 CEOs from businesses all over the world like McDonald’s and Ikea, and celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo.

    There’s just one problem: Without your help, none of it will matter.

    It’s been more than two decades since the United States helped negotiate the first climate change treaty, which was never ratified by Congress. Since then, the record of international climate agreements has been abysmal. Talks in the The Hague fell short in 2000, Copenhagen negotiations collapsed in 2009, and Durban disappointed in 2011. Over and over, the leaders of countries have proved unable or unwilling to tackle our biggest climate challenges.

    That’s increasingly a problem for global security, according to our military leaders. As global temperatures rise and weather patterns become increasingly volatile, we can expect that natural disasters will only escalate in number and intensity. Disasters like Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines leave already vulnerable populations in even more dire need for basic goods and services- things which their governments are often unable to provide.

    The problem is not unique to the Philippines — one instigating factor of the genocide in Darfur was the severe drought that ravaged the land historically shared between nomadic Arab herdsmen and indigenous famers. The competition over shrinking resources for grazing and farming contributed to a massive humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

    In short, climate change is a catalyst of conflict, exacerbating already unstable situations in deeply divided societies. Terrorist organizations view natural disasters as opportunities to recruit and radicalize these populations when they are most vulnerable. As a result, climate-driven crises pose an acute national security threat to the United States, forcing our men and women in uniform to respond to natural disasters around the world and diverting them from the military’s primary objectives — keeping us safe and winning wars.

    We know the only way to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change in the future is to make serious investments in clean energy technology and deployment today. Of course, you won’t be surprised to learn that Congress hasn’t been very helpful. Since comprehensive climate legislation failed in 2009, Congress has been more harmful than helpful to the clean energy sector. That hasn’t stopped clean energy companies here at home from adding nearly 80,000 jobs and 80 percent of new power capacity in 2013. But as long as the national political scene is a partisan swamp, working out the dynamics for international negotiations will be an immense challenge.

    We need to change the way we power our economies, turning to renewable sources, efficiency, demand response, electricity storage, and a host of other technologies and business models that will reduce our carbon emissions. We need a vibrant, dynamic clean energy economy that is providing for the enormous energy needs of developed countries like our own and bring solar power to emerging economies, like climate-conflict ravaged Mali.

    The real action is happening in states, cities and local communities. One decidedly positive thing did happen in New York last month: more than 200 cities signed a “Compact of Mayors” laying out specific targets and strategies for reducing their carbon emissions. As Mayor Bill de Blasio noted in his opening speech, “the energy we use in our homes, schools, workplaces, stores and public facilities accounts for nearly three-quarters of our contribution to climate change. But we can upgrade our buildings to make them more energy efficient and reduce these emissions. With this work, we can make our homes more affordable, improve the quality of our air and create a thriving market for energy efficiency and renewable energy-with new jobs and new businesses.”

    Mayor Greg Ballard of Indianapolis, a Republican and retired Marine, is leading his city to become the first to get its entire vehicle fleet off oil. He’s turning to electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, because he’s concerned our dependence on oil compromises our national security. You can push your city leaders to do the same. Companies like American Efficient are helping businesses and consumers make more informed energy choices, and services like Ride Scout can help you identify the best form of public transportation for where you need to go.

    By taking action, you’ll be driving the demand for the clean energy economy we need. After seeing decades of half-measures and halting negotiations, it’s clear that solutions will have to be community-driven.

     Michael Wu is the Energy Program Director for the Truman National Security Project and Center for National Policy, specializing in the connection between energy and national security. This piece was originally featured in the Huffington Post.

  • Roll Call: A Veteran’s Perspective: Congress Must Not Threaten Climate Leadership

    This piece was originally featured on Roll Call.

    I joined the military so I could serve my country and defend the values that define the American way of life. Active leadership of the United States on the world stage has proven essential to solving the great global challenges of the past.

    As a nation, we have proved time and time again our ability to act outside of narrow self-interest in order to confront threats to global security, restore peace, and preserve equal opportunity for all.

    In the last century, the greatest generation halted expanding tyranny during World War II. In the wake of the destruction following that epic conflict, the United States rebuilt a world grounded in the principles of freedom and democracy. In doing so, the men and women of our grandparents’ generation understood that America’s strength and security is inextricably intertwined with the fate of all nations.

    However, as President Barack Obama noted in his recent address to the graduating class of West Point, the world is changing at an accelerating pace. While technology and information brings us closer together as a global community, our strength and security is challenged by new threats that transcend national borders.

    The need for American leadership to confront these new challenges has never been more pressing. Today, we face a creeping threat that has the potential to undermine all of our efforts towards global security: climate change.

    Climate change is the silent enemy in the defining challenge of this century to defend the world’s most vulnerable populations from extremism. The effects of climate change take many forms, among them rising sea levels, resource scarcity, and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like droughts, storms and floods.

    These environmental shifts are exacerbating every struggle for security, reducing economic opportunity and accelerating instability from the Middle East to Africa to the Pacific Rim. These changes will test the strength of government institutions and the will of the international community to protect those populations that are most vulnerable to destabilization.

    During my deployments, I saw firsthand the violence and chaos that occurs when some of the most impoverished places in the world are destabilized by conflict. The strong prey upon the weak. Civil society breaks down, replaced by extremism. Nations break into tribes, and tribes turn upon each other. The most vulnerable inevitably bear the brunt of the conflict.

    Extremism naturally finds a foothold where environmental stressors and weak governance have already created a vacuum of power. All too often, this void is filled by non-state actors who provide basic services in exchange for promoting ideologies that spread chaos and violence. And if we as a country have learned anything over the past fifteen years, it is that events halfway around the globe have a direct impact on our security at home.

    It is undeniable that climate change puts the future of global stability and strength of democratic institutions at risk. These impacts exacerbate challenges to the values America has worked hard to promote around the world, and we must act to counter them.

    This is why the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is so critical: The fight begins with a robust strategy to curb emissions here at home. America’s leadership is critical to inspiring the efforts of other global players.

    There is no shortage of naysayers — particularly in Congress — who stubbornly insist that action here at home is irrelevant so long as other nations, such as China and India, continue to pollute. This view is as self-indulgent as it is shortsighted. No nation catalyzes global action better than the United States. We not only have an obligation to act, but also to lead all nations to act.

    Next year, we will have an opportunity to create a binding international agreement as the world comes together for another round of international climate negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France. The United States must come to the table both ready to take action, and serve as a strong moral and practical example. The world is watching to see if this is just a meaningless political maneuver or a pivot to serious American action on a critical issue.

    This is why it is imperative that all Americans engage in this process and demonstrate strong support for the standard’s successful implementation. Some in Congress — including Sens. Mitch McConnell and James M. Inhofe — have already signaled their intentions to torpedo this smart move by means of a Congressional Review Act report. Any further efforts to delay and perhaps even invalidate the new standard before it has a chance to produce positive results would be self-serving political posturing.

    It is up to mainstream America to push back against these naysayers who would abdicate American leadership. Climate change is a monumental threat recognized by leaders in science and defense — traditionally two of America’s strongest suits. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is the first step in a long fight, and Americans must demand action and stave off congressional interference so that we can step up to one of the greatest global challenges of our generation.

    Adam Tiffen is a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council and a veteran of three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a co-founder of Tri-Star Collaborative, a firm specializing in sustainable development in emerging markets and post-conflict environments.

  • Generating Security: Resilient, Renewable Energy for Military Installations

    Last week,  I was proud to stand with Representative Scott Peters (D-San Diego) as he continues to push for energy security for our military.  Military installations here at home depend almost entirely on the fragile, antiquated electric grid for power, making them increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events or an attack on our infrastructure.  This is unacceptable.

    As a Navy veteran who was stationed here in Southern California and an energy efficiency engineer, energy security is a particularly vital issue to me.  It means having the power to keep a clinic up and running during a blackout.  It means being able to provide time-sensitive support to missions in Afghanistan when my brothers and sisters in arms need it.  And it means food, water, and medical assistance to surrounding communities during a natural disaster.

    There are more than 30 military installations in California alone.  Although there are diesel generators on site to provide backup for critical systems, these generators still need fuel that must be transported and stored.  In a natural disaster, logistics may prove impossible; at present, there is no plan for how to transport enough fuel to keep all the bases in Southern California powered through an extended blackout.

    And in the last few years, there were a lot of blackouts.  In 2012, the Department of Defense (DoD) reported 87 outages of 8 hours or more on military installations.  At one point during Hurricane Sandy, there were 8.5 million people without power.

    As the Secretary of Energy warned this year, more than half of the cyber-attacks in the United States have been focused on energy infrastructure.  Just over a year ago, there was an armed attack on a substation in San Jose – the perpetrators of which were never identified.  Between natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks, there is a clear and present danger presented by factors outside of our control.

    The Air Force, Army, and Navy will each generate more than one gigawatt of renewable energy on their installations by 2020.  Solar panels paired with large-scale modular batteries or other energy storage technologies are the key to providing power in the event of a blackout.

    Energy secure bases will use the renewable generation at their disposal to stay operational; in the case of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Miramar, that means a microgrid tied to the power they already generate from the adjacent landfill.  This additional level of sophistication, to keep the renewables generating power in a blackout, is not currently tied to any of the federal renewable policies.

    The Udall-Peters Department of Defense Energy Security Act of 2014 (DODESA 2014) will fix this problem and improve energy security by scaling up the integration of renewables and backup power systems.  Cost savings from existing DoD energy projects will be available for bases to use to fund further energy projects, creating a virtuous circle for clean energy projects that mirrors what’s happening in the private sector.  This legislation will also provide a vehicle for funding energy security itself, adding a cost benefit security analysis to the rules by which projects qualify for funding.

    But that’s not the only good news for installations in California.  Last month, the California Public Utilities Commission rebuffed the utilities’ attempts to charge additional fees and delay integrating battery-tied solar systems into the grid.  This is a win for manufacturers and providers of these systems but even more significant for facilities concerned about energy security.  And AB 2649, currently making its way through the California legislature will allow military bases to generate more solar power than just the one megawatt at which they were previously capped.

    For our national security at home and abroad, we have an obligation to keep the lights on when no one else can.  DODESA 2014 and AB2649 are huge steps in the right direction and efforts that I support whole heartedly as both a Californian and a veteran.  It is not a matter of if but when the next attack of natural disaster or attack or infrastructure failure occurs and we have an obligation to be prepared when it does.

  • Energy Independence: The New American Freedom

    This post was originally featured on CleanTx

    For Americans and veterans alike, Memorial Day serves as a day to pay tribute to our fallen service members. The millions of men and women that have served in combat overseas understand that the price of freedom is not free, and that the pursuit of freedom does not always lead to the gates of victory. Many of our recent combat veterans returning home from wars in the Middle East understand this notion quite well. For many Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans, the war in Iraq was as misconstrued on the front lines as it was misunderstood back home. During the starting point of the “Surge”, nearly 50% of Americans supported the immediate return of troops from Iraq, with 83-98% Iraqi citizens opposing the presence of coalition forces in their country. During this point in the war, many soldiers on the front lines frequently asked themselves and each other one simple question. “Why are we here?”

    During a fifteen-month tour as part of the “Surge” in Baghdad, my platoon performed nearly 1,000 combat missions in an area of intense contention between an Al-Qaeda cell and a highly militarized insurgent group known as Jaysh al-Mahdi. Both competing organizations engaged in a blood feud against each other, while waging war against unaffiliated Iraqi citizens, the Iraqi government and our coalition forces. During that period of the war, the bloodshed incurred in my platoon’s area of operation resulted in hundreds of Iraqi citizens being brutally murdered, with thousands more becoming displaced only to escape to other war-torn neighborhoods and cities, or worse, to other countries that shuffled them to war refugee camps that resembled a dystopian nightmare more than a place of solace. Our platoon saw more than our fair share of close quarter battles, and experienced too often the anguish of carrying our fallen brethren off the battlefield. However, through all our hardships borne, we managed to spearhead multiple counterinsurgency strategies with our fellow Iraqi Army partners and local Iraqi leaders that brought about a relative level of peace and normality to our area of operation. Indeed, the price of freedom was not free, but why did we find ourselves in such a precarious situation in the first place?

    During the first six months of our tour, there was a major dispute occurring between the U.S. Department of State and the Iraq Ministry of Oil. The dispute was split into two primary points of tension- petroleum product shortages throughout all major Iraqi cities and the overwhelmingly increasing oil revenues being generated by the Ministry that were not being adequately appropriated toward post-invasion development efforts. One of the greatest crises experienced by Iraqi citizens during the war was lack of power, or rather the lack of national grid power being supplied to their homes and businesses.

    Upon assuming command of our area of operation, our platoon was tasked with the incredulous mission to bring power to Iraqi homes and businesses in an area that only yielded an average of two hours of national grid power per day per capita. For two weeks, we followed transmission lines to transformers and transformers to substations in an effort to discover the disconnection between upstream generation and downstream users. By the end of the investigation, it was overwhelmingly clear that there was little or no power generation being supplied by the power stations around the city. Moreover, the transmission lines were being cut and gutted by local citizens for their copper to be sold to scrap yards in a city that was experiencing 25-40% unemployment according to many internationally accredited sources like the Brookings Institute. In other words, there was nearly no production or transmission of power in a city of four million people with average summertime temperatures north of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Instead, neighborhoods, business and homesteads relied on local generation from diesel generators that were spread sparsely throughout the streets of neighborhoods, where thousands upon thousands of spider web-like electrical lines spun back and forth across homes and streets to connect with the generators. Around every generator a cloud of black smoke would plume like a diesel powered locomotive engine forming a thick, black chalk-like residue around the dense neighborhood streets where they were usually located. The soot and particulates from the generators, as reported by local hospitals and clinics, were the root cause in the significant rise of respiratory illnesses.

    As we investigated the localized generation paradigm, we begun to receive many complaints about price gouging from local citizens who would bring us their bills from month to month to compare the price per kWh. The price differentials were staggering, so we brought these complaints to the local leaders and government officials to find a way to resolve the erratic pricing behaviors of generator owners. It was during these engagements that our platoon discovered the consequences of war and the influence of controlling the power supply.

    Following the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein and his minions used controlling tactics like cutting off the power supply in contended Shia neighborhoods to keep the citizens in those areas from forming an uprising against him and his regime. Following the invasion, Al-Qaeda cells and insurgent groups used similar tactics, but with more brute force. Like many other oil-rich OPEC countries, the Iraqi government was required to supply petroleum products to Iraqi citizens and business at subsidized rates or no cost at all. The supply of those petroleum products, as we learned, were being sabotaged and hijacked by both Al-Qaeda and insurgent operatives who would then illegally sell the fuel to local generator owners, businesses and citizens. Upon assuming control of the petroleum supply, they would increase demand by withholding fuel from the market, which would then drive up local generation prices. Thus, we discovered the genesis for price gouging in our area of operation.

    It was also during this period of time that the Ministry of Oil had fallen under great scrutiny by the U.S. Department of State for not adequately appropriating oil production revenues towards post-invasion reconstruction, which were generated from the sale of oil resources to global oil companies and developing countries as initiated by the Iraq Hydrocarbons Law. Revenues from multiple non-bid contracts to top global oil developers and producers reportedly lead the Ministry of Oil to generate over $20 billion in revenues during the first six months of the “Surge” – more than five times the average annual budget for the entire Iraqi government. As such, a portion of these revenues were appropriated to supply petroleum products in our area of operation to Iraqi citizens, which were then being hijacked and controlled by Al-Qaeda and insurgent operatives. In other words, not only was the Iraqi government failing to provide necessary national services to their citizens, they were also inadvertently funding the extremists and insurgents who were waging war against their government, their citizens and our coalition forces.

    Our platoon executed an aggressive counterinsurgency campaign against the two extremist organizations, which was supported and lead by our Iraqi Army counterparts and local Iraqi leaders. These efforts eliminated the two extremists groups from controlling the petroleum supply lines, which in turn stabilized local generator pricing and extended average daily power supply from two hours per day to twelve hours per day per capita. The stabilization of power supply and pricing then lead to increased business development and economic activities, which spurred greater growth in other service areas like trash collection and sewage line installation. The generators that were located along the dense neighborhood streets were relocated to large ventilated areas, and were protected by locally hired citizens. As a result of all these activities, local hospitals and clinics reported a significant drop of dysentery cases in our area of operation, constituted by the new sewage lines and trash collection, and a near complete reduction in reported respiratory illnesses caused by poorly ventilated areas around generators.

    The increased quality of life for the Iraqi citizens in our area of operation was palpable, and it came at no added expense to American taxpayers beyond the salaries of sixty American soldiers deployed to Western Baghdad. Rather, it was paid by the blood, sweat and tears of our platoon and company, along with our Iraqi counterparts, for which six of our beloved brothers lost their lives in pursuit of these efforts – with many others being severely injured. Yet, this is just one story from the thousands and millions of similar stories and experiences shared by Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans. Moreover, it is ever apparent that these veterans are ready and willing to lead our country beyond the Iraq War era, while protecting their fellow countrymen from experiencing the same crises they personally witnessed and experienced in Iraq.
    The energy security and development experiences gained from Operation Iraqi Freedom, now serve as the foundational strength of returning Iraq War veterans that are pursuing careers toward a new American freedom – energy independence. Perhaps, the single greatest benefit to America from those ten years of war in Iraq is the knowledge and experience gained by young veterans who lead energy security and development efforts while combat. Under those extreme environments and conditions, they polished and refined their energy-market knowledge and leadership skills, and are now well equipped to lead the Age of Sustainability. It is these men and women who best understand the consequences of our country’s dependence on foreign fuels, because they bare the scars of those consequences. Indeed, they have heeded our nations’ call to action against terrorists and tyrants, and are now heeding the call to secure our nations’ energy future. It is this same decree that lead to the creation of HEVO Power and many other veteran-owned businesses alike.

    There is a new vision of energy security quietly being developed and deployed in our country by many Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans, with the mission to secure our energy independence. It is a mission that began on the battlefields in places like Baghdad, Fallujah, Basra and Mosul, and is now fueled by the tenacious spirit of the men and women who more than understand the ultimate cost of not securing a sustainable future in America. As they trade their uniforms for suits, and their helmets for hardhats, they will continue leading our country to finally free ourselves from the terrorists and tyrants that disrupt our way of life and threaten our national security efforts. As such, they do so with the everlasting memories of their fallen brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of freedom, while shouldering the burden of preventing our next generations from experiencing the same fates.

    In keeping the memory of my fallen brothers alive, and to the heroic men and women of 1-64th Armor Regiment and Delta Company, I say to you all:

    “Mission First, Men Always.”

    Written in memory of SFC Shawn Suzch, SSG Ernesto Cimmarusti, SSG David Julian, CPL Robert McDavid CPL Scott McIntosh and Interpreter Saif Shakur.

  • Energy Security in Ohio Under Attack

    Post was originally published in The Columbus Dispatch.

    [Last week], Senator Balderson put Ohio’s energy security at risk by introducing SB 310, a bill that would impose a freeze at the end of 2014 on the state’s clean energy standards – the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS).

    While we’ve seen a fight to weaken the standards over the past year, this latest attempt to impose a direct freeze on the standards is by far the most egregious attack yet.

    The proposed freeze would directly threaten Ohio’s energy security and limit our ability to develop a diverse energy portfolio.

    As a veteran of the United States Army, I’ve seen first hand the importance of energy access and the threat posed by an over-reliance on a single – and often unsecure – energy source. In Iraq, energy supply disruptions severely limited our ability to conduct operations, and could mean the difference between a successful or failed mission.

    That’s why the military is investing in clean energy and energy efficient technologies that provide greater energy security and diversity and strengthen operational capabilities in combat zones and installations here at home, including here in Ohio.

    Ohio has emerged as a leader in advancing a clean energy economy since passing the clean energy standards with broad bi-partisan support in 2008.

    For Ohio – and the military – diversification is critically important to ensuring secure access to energy.  The standards have been instrumental in diversifying our energy portfolio with clean, homegrown energy, increasing Ohio’s energy security and lowering costs for consumers on their monthly utility bills.

    The proposed freeze would cap further growth of the clean energy sector, and we would see a ripple effect through the economy in the way of job-loss, unstable and rising energy prices, and declining private investment.

    I call upon lawmakers to stop these senseless attacks on clean energy and to follow the leadership of our military by strengthening Ohio’s commitment to investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

  • Renewable sources of power are key to Ohio’s energy security

    For months, we have seen a fight play out in the Statehouse over Ohio’s energy future and the fate of Substitute Senate Bill 58 – which would weaken Ohio’s ability to pursue clean, homegrown, renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Just recently, we saw changes made to the bill.

    While there are some who claim these adjustments were a compromise and have lessened the harmful impacts of this bill, let me be clear: Substitute Senate Bill 58 is still a bad deal for Ohioans.

    The revised amendments would still weaken Ohio’s renewable energy standard — a law that requires a certain amount of the state’s energy portfolio be derived from renewable sources.

    Yet, continuing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency strengthen our national security and benefit Ohio’s economy. They also save Ohioans money. Since the standards were first adopted in 2008, Ohio taxpayers have saved more than $1 billion on their utility bills.

    Introduced by state Sen. Bill Seitz (Republican of Cincinnati), the bill would, among other things, weaken in-state renewable energy by allowing out-of-state and out-of-country sources to count toward the standard and cap investments in energy efficiency. This means fewer new clean-energy projects would be built in the state and higher energy costs for Ohioans. A recent report concluded that, if implemented, S.B. 58 would pay over $300 million annually on electricity bills, costing the average Ohio household an added $528 on their electricity bill over the next three years. It’s a dangerous move for Ohio — and one that puts our military and national security more at risk.

    The facts are stark: Our reliance on fossil fuels puts our troops in greater risk abroad and endangers us here at home. And by investing in renewable sources of power, we can lessen that threat, while investing in Ohio’s economy.

    Our local leaders once understood this. That’s why, in 2008, Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) was enacted with broad bipartisan support. It states that 12.5 percent (that’s a half of a quarter) of the state’s electricity must come from renewable sources by year 2025. Importantly, it requires that at least half of those sources be located within Ohio —meaning it will create local jobs in growing industries. In sum, this standard allows Ohio to diversify its energy portfolio to include cleaner, renewable, homegrown energy options like wind, solar and energy efficiency.

    In the five years since, Ohio has seen the creation of 25,000 jobs in renewable energy and energy-efficiency markets — with many of these businesses being veteran-owned or employing returning service members. Should the standards continue to mature, Ohio’s clean energy industry is projected to grow by at least another 30,000 jobs. That’s enough jobs to employ every single undergraduate at Ohio University, twice over.

    Today, Ohio is a national leader in clean energy technology production. This is not only benefitting our state’s bottom-line, but America’s national security.

    Our enemies recognize America’s crucial weakness, one that our military leaders understand all too well. Our single-source dependence on oil tethers our military to a volatile world market and requires enormous resources to protect a vast and vulnerable supply chain. Clean energy technologies lessen these risks and lower costs. A diverse mix of energy sources increases grid stability and protects the military and Ohioans from unexpected energy price spikes.

    As a veteran who served in both the Army and Navy, I’ve seen firsthand how limited energy options – like dependence on oil – hurt mission capability and put lives at stake. In Iraq, I participated in logistical operations, meaning I helped with the movement of fuel convoys —gas trucks — daily. Insurgents recognized these convoys as easy targets. On one trip, the fuel convoy in front of my truck got struck by small arms fire, began leaking fuel and nearly exploded. On another mission, the truck in front of mine got hit with an improvised explosive device — and the gunner suffered lifelong wounds. I came away from my decade of service with one clear idea: We need energy diversity to keep our military the strongest in the world and to protect our troops.

    Here at home, the same need for a diverse energy mix applies. Our state’s energy future is more secure if we have more energy options, and the Renewable Portfolio Standard is critical to achieving that goal. These clean sources of energy do not just give Ohio residents, businesses and military bases energy – they give us options.

    In Ohio, we need a diverse portfolio that takes advantage of the clean, homegrown energy resources – like wind and solar – available to us. Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard is a vital step forward, one that bolsters energy security, saves Ohioans money on their utility bill, and strengthens Ohio’s economic security.

    Any attempts to water down these standards will always be a bad deal for Ohioans. The Ohio State legislature would be smart to vote down Substitute Senate Bill 58 — and in doing so, continue this state’s legacy of forward-thinking investments in our safety and prosperity.

    Mark Szabo is a Cleveland native, a Northeast Ohio resident and a U.S. Army and Navy veteran. He is also a member of Operation Free. This article originally appeared in The Plain Dealer.

  • Greatest Generation Grandparents Inspired My Passion for Energy Efficiency

    Andrea Marr is being honored as a Veteran Advancing Clean Energy and Climate Security Champion of Change.

    My grandparents were green before green was trendy. They had a solar hot water heater on the roof of their home and a garden where they grew most of their vegetables. My grandfather built a sunroom attached to the house, and during winters in Colorado they had only to crack the door of the sun room and warm air heated by the sun would flow into the living room. They lived in a suburb very much on the grid, but embraced self-sufficiency as much as they could. The modifications they made to their home and the way they lived saved them money, utilized less energy, and improved their quality of life.

    I grew up instilled with this notion of conservation, but I have more in common with my grandparents than that. They both served in the Navy during World War II – my grandmother as a yeoman, my grandfather as a pilot. Like them, I wanted to serve my country; eventually I too joined the Navy.

    I loved the military and completed five years of service before retiring, confident there was another way I could contribute to our great nation and have an impact: by promoting clean energy.

    We stand at an incredible moment for clean energy. Solar is on the verge of grid parity – by 2017, the cost of solar in the U.S. will be truly competitive. Wind energy has the capacity to power over 15 million homes and that number is rapidly increasing. But we also have a huge opportunity to reduce the amount that we consume, opting for smart technologies and common sense approaches to energy reduction. As a nation, we have the chance to emulate my grandparents by using less energy and saving money while improving our lives.

    In the last year my work has focused largely on educational facilities, from middle schools to universities. I’ve discovered auditoriums with the lights and air conditioning left on for the entire summer following graduation. I’ve found classrooms where kids are getting less fresh air than recommended and places where the A/C is left on high but doesn’t work properly and never actually cools a room.

    There is nothing political about energy efficiency. There is nothing overwhelmingly complex or risky about implementing measures that improve our homes and offices and create safer, more productive environments. Nationally we spend $32 billion dollars heating hot water in our homes; the installation of solar hot water heating alone could reduce the average household’s energy expenditure by half. It’s estimated that commercial office buildings waste 30% of all the energy they consume. That equates to energy we can avoid buying on the world oil market, savings in our pockets, and better environments in which to live.

    It’s not about being green for green’s sake. It’s about the future we want to create and the opportunity to exercise American leadership to make us self-sufficient in the best sense of word – in a way my Greatest Generation grandparents would respect.

    Andrea Marr is a professional engineer and energy efficiency expert in California.  She is also a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council.  This originally appeared on the White House Blog.

  • Carrying the Flag Forward To a Clean Energy Future

    Kevin Johnson is being honored as a Veteran Advancing Clean Energy and Climate Security Champion of Change.

    It is a tremendous honor to be recognized as a White House Champion of Change and I am humbled by the opportunity to share my experiences as an Iraq War Veteran now working to combat our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and the impacts of climate change. Throughout my life, I have had the good fortune to be surrounded by positive influences that have helped me shape my values and choose my career path. Growing up in Scranton, PA, I learned the true meaning of hard work and sacrifice from my mother. I learned what community really means and the importance of friendship, trust, and integrity. Moreover, I learned how important it is to appreciate service and leadership in all forms.

    I graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served as an Army Captain in Bayji, Iraq. My tour in Iraq was served in the shadow of seemingly endless oil fires that filled the desert sky as insurgents attacked pipelines at a nearby refinery in an attempt to cripple the country’s economy. At the same time, our own military’s dependence on fossil fuels was placing thousands of my fellow soldiers in harm’s way. One in every 24 fuel convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan ended in an American casualty, with more than three thousand Americans killed in fuel-supply convoys between 2003 and 2007 alone.

    My proudest professional accomplishment was safely returning all 130 of my soldiers home to their families upon redeployment from Bayji in 2005. My experience taught me that reducing our dependence on fossil fuels would make our nation more secure and bring more soldiers home safely. For these reasons, I decided to focus my MBA studies at Cornell University and my civilian career at Acciona Energy on the advancement of clean energy technologies.

    Thankfully, many veterans – ranging from privates to general officers – are returning from a decade of war with a similar commitment to securing our nation’s energy future and combating the impacts of climate change. Operation Free, a national coalition of thousands of veterans, national security leaders, and military family members in all fifty states, is tackling climate change. Today, Operation Free is leading the fight for clean energy policies at both the federal and state levels.

    The Department of Defense has recognized that the need to secure our nation’s energy future is a national security issue of the highest magnitude and will require bold and decisive action. Deploying clean energy technology can help create a better future and a stronger nation, but it will not be easy. This is precisely the kind of challenge our veterans are trained for.

    As the President noted in his 2009 inaugural address, “[…] it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor – who have carried us up the long rugged path towards prosperity and freedom. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter.”

    Our nation’s veterans, from Scranton to Seattle, have been battle tested. We will carry the flag forward on this long, rugged path to a clean energy future. We will not turn back and we will not falter.

    Kevin Johnson is the Senior Manager of Mergers & Acquisitions and Federal Business Development for Acciona Energy North America, a global leader in renewable energy.  This article originally appeared on the White House Blog.

  • Energy Independence, Military Readiness, and Economic Growth: Clean Energy Leads to National Security

    Dave Belote is being honored as a Veteran Advancing Clean Energy and Climate Security Champion of Change.

    I’ve been blessed with two exciting and fulfilling careers: first as a fighter pilot, Battlefield Airman, and base commander; and now as a clean energy developer and advocate. While the two may seem unrelated, each has served the same goal – to ensure a long and prosperous future for the country I love. My lifelong commitment to national security has taught me that keeping our country safe will require more than military readiness. I’m convinced that energy independence and economic growth are equally important to our nation’s long-term prosperity. Renewable energy is at the nexus of the three.

    When I moved to Nevada in 2008 to become the installation commander for Nellis Air Force Base, Creech Air Force Base, and the Nevada Test and Training Range, I knew almost nothing about clean energy development. After taking command, I learned quickly. I inherited the then-largest solar photovoltaic array on the continent, a 14-megawatt system that produced more than 25 percent of Nellis’s electricity and saved roughly $83,000 per month in energy costs during my tenure. I was also asked to help site a 110-megawatt solar tower near Tonopah, NV – not an easy task, as we had to protect sophisticated test range capabilities in the vicinity. With the help of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory and its cutting-edge analysis, we found a win-win site for both the military and the solar company, allowing the project to move forward.

    The Tonopah project was not unique in its siting challenges. Siting projects near Department of Defense (DoD) facilities requires consideration of impacts on radar systems, training procedures, and test facilities. Our Nevada solution became a model and led me back to the Pentagon as a civilian, where I created the DoD Siting Clearinghouse to review energy projects nationwide and promote mission-compatible development on and around military facilities. From industry we learned how renewable energy can drive a local economy by creating construction jobs, providing income for rural landowners, and increasing county tax revenues. Working with scientists and engineers, we determined how close to various military facilities we could place turbines and solar systems. We actively engaged developers and found innovative, cooperative solutions. To date the Clearinghouse has approved more than 96 percent of the requests it has received, honoring landowner rights and entrepreneurial drive while protecting the DoD’s mission.

    My path has taken me to the private sector, where I am developing the types of projects I would have appreciated as a base commander – total energy surety solutions combining on-site generation, storage, and smart grid software. Apex Clean Energy has empowered me to design wind and solar energy projects specifically for military customers. At the same time, I am able to tackle larger issues by working with advocacy groups like the American Council on Renewable Energy, the Association of Defense Communities, Environmental Entrepreneurs, and the Truman Project on National Security.

    The future of clean energy in our country is bright, but there is much more we can do. We need to amend the current tax structure to level the financial playing field, and I believe a refundable tax credit will bring us one step closer to cheaper capital through Master Limited Partnerships. I applaud the President’s goal of 10 gigawatts of renewable energy on public lands, but I believe we need a comprehensive review of military missions on federal lands and the outer continental shelf in order to achieve it. I firmly believe we can find the proper balance of military readiness and energy independence, and that the renewable energy facilities we build will provide jobs and revenues to support local services, creating true national security for our country.

    Dave Belote, Vice President for Federal Business at Apex Clean Energy, works to create mission-compatible renewable energy solutions for military installations, public lands, and the outer continental shelf.  This article originally appeared on the White House Blog.

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