The day after the president released his fiscal year 2013 budget proposal, Mark Udall questioned Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey about the Defense Department's proposal to develop renewable and clean energy technology. Udall has long fought for such a move, which would save money and service members' lives, and help the nation become energy independent. The president's budget also makes it a priority.
Udall introduced the Department of Defense Energy Security Act in 2010 and again in 2011 to support the Defense Department's efforts and to push the Pentagon to keep working to reduce the military's dependence on foreign oil. It's important to Colorado, where bases are helping lead the way on efforts to develop renewable energy sources. It's also important to our national security and troops' safety - for example, thousands of service members have died or been injured in fuel convoys in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
At today's budget hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Udall asked Dempsey how DOD's move toward renewable energy will affect the military's operations today.
Dempsey responded: "To the extent we can create autonomous or semi-autonomous power and energy organizations - net-zero in terms of their consumption of power and energy - we'll actually save lives and become a lot more agile because we won't be as tied to some kind of traditional, linear line of communication. We're all in. Every service, frankly, is working on this, and I think this budget reflects that."
"This is an issue of saving lives and saving billions of dollars. I'm very pleased that developing clean energy - particularly in the military - is a highlight of the president's budget, and I look forward to working with defense leaders in Colorado and Washington, D.C., to move these initiatives forward," Udall said after the hearing. "By advancing cutting-edge energy technologies that reduce the military's reliance on fossil fuel - like portable solar power, algae-based diesel fuel and microgrids - the Pentagon could transform the way we carry out military campaigns, save lives, spur the civilian clean energy market, and even shift the geopolitics of oil in our favor."