Today, U.S. Senator Mark Udall formally unveiled the updated Department of Defense Energy Security Act of 2011, aimed at helping the military shore up one of its greatest vulnerabilities: its reliance on fossil fuel. Udall developed the bill in partnership with the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ) to help reduce DOD fossil fuel consumption and advance its efforts to develop smart-grid technology, saving lives and billions of taxpayer dollars.
During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of service men and women have been injured and killed each year in attacks on fuel convoys. In addition, the military spends $20 billion a year on energy, consuming a staggering 135 million barrels of oil and 30 million megawatt-hours of electricity. In the words of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen: "Saving energy saves lives."
"The U.S. military pays a heavy price for its reliance on fossil fuel. Osama bin Laden reportedly called our fuel convoys our military's "umbilical cord,' and we risk the lives of thousands of troops each year because of our dependence on fossil fuel in theater and at home," Udall said. "Decreasing dependency on foreign fossil fuel must be a military -- and an American -- priority."
Udall held a news conference on the U.S. Capitol grounds to roll out the bill. He was joined by retired Navy Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn and retired Brigadier General Steven Anderson -- experts and outspoken advocates for improving efficiency and increasing the use of renewable energy by the military -- as well as members of Giffords's staff.
Udall originally teamed with Giffords to introduce the bill last year and worked closely with her office this year. The bill builds on work that is already being done and helps the Pentagon expand existing renewable energy studies and pilot programs through a Joint Contingency Base Resource Security Project. This project would help the service branches to share lessons learned as they study the best ways to incorporate renewable energy sources and fuel reduction initiatives such as the Marine Corps outstanding Experimental Forward Operating Base and the Army's pilot Net Zero Installations program, which Fort Carson in Colorado Springs has been selected to join. Fort Carson will be a testing ground for ways Army bases can use as much water and energy as they produce and recycle waste to achieve "net zero" energy use. Under the Udall-Giffords bill, Fort Carson's results and ideas could ultimately benefit the entire defense community's efforts to save money, energy and American lives.
"While there's no single solution, our bill would support and advance the work of the Defense Department to systemically address energy security," Udall continued. "We owe it to our troops and the American people to find ways to use energy smarter and more efficiently, and I believe this bill is several important steps in the right direction."