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Blog: Energy Security is National Security


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Announcing Udall-Giffords Bill to Reduce Military's Reliance on Fossil Fuel

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. Decreasing dependency on foreign fossil fuel must be a military -- and an American -- priority.

Today I announced the Department of Defense Energy Security Act of 2011, a bill developed in partnership with the office of Representative Gabrielle Giffords, which is aimed at helping the military reduce its reliance on fossil fuel. 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. 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. 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.

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