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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington DC

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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I rise to speak about the Department of Defense Energy Security Act of 2011 or DODESA, that I am introducing today.

This bill takes a number of important steps toward addressing some of our most critical national energy security challenges. It authorizes increased development of alternative fuels and increased usage of hybrid drive systems and electric vehicles. The bill streamlines communication between agencies responsible for energy programs across the DOD, and authorizes DOD to examine where the greatest potential exists for renewable energy programs. And it authorizes DOD to determine how best to incorporate smart grid technology and to work with local communities to develop contingency plans in the event of a power outage caused by cyber attacks or natural disasters.

Simply put, this bill addresses the military's single largest vulnerability: Its dependence on fossil fuel. When you talk about that dependency in theater--you're talking about putting service members' lives at risk. 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. Osama bin Laden reportedly called those convoys our military's ``umbilical cord.'' In the words of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen: ``Saving energy saves lives.'' He said: ``Energy needs to be the first thing we think about before we deploy another soldier, before we build another ship or plane.''

That dependence on oil also costs taxpayers a staggering amount of money. But our military's reliance on vulnerable energy resources is not just on the battlefield. At home, defense facilities rely on a fragile national grid, leaving critical assets vulnerable. The Defense Science Board found in its 2008 report, ``More Fight--Less Fuel'' that, ``critical national security and homeland defense missions are at an unacceptably high risk of extended outage from failure of the grid.''

All told, the military spends $20 billion on energy each year, consuming a whopping 135 million barrels of oil and 30 million megawatt-hours of electricity. It consumes more fuel and electricity each year than most countries.

The Pentagon's energy consumption has serious national security implications, but it also presents opportunities. As the Logistics Management Institute wrote, ``Aggressively developing and applying energy-saving technologies to military applications would potentially do more to solve the most pressing long-term challenges facing DOD and our national security than any other single investment area.''

That is why we have introduced this legislation. I say ``we'' because this bill is the product of a joint effort with Congresswoman GIFFORDS' office. Gabby is a great friend, and we introduced this bill together last Congress. This year, my staff has worked closely with hers on this updated version. This is an issue that is near and dear to Gabby's heart, and I know that she is eager to continue her work on it in the House.

I am very proud of this legislation for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, DODESA will help the Department of Defense cut fuel consumption and long-term costs.

Secondly, it provides authorization that will expand existing renewable energy studies and pilot programs through a Joint Contingency Base Resource Security Project. This project will help the service branches 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 Net Zero Installations.

Third, Colorado is leading the way in this commonsense area of energy security. In particular, I would like to highlight the leadership of Fort Carson, in my home state, which has been chosen as one of two bases to participate in the Army's ``Triple Net Zero'' pilot program. They are truly pioneers in this important work, and I appreciate all of their efforts.

In sum, our legislation will make America more secure, will save taxpayer dollars, and it will save lives. There is no single solution to our energy security challenges. DODESA is not a silver bullet that will solve all of our problems. However, it's part of a silver buckshot solution that will require multiple changes in the way that we do business.

We owe it to our service members and the American people to find ways to use energy smarter and more efficiently, and I believe this bill takes a number of important steps in the right direction.

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