Dear Fellow Coloradan,
What do GPS, flat-screen televisions and the Internet have in common? Before each became commonly available consumer goods, they were developed by the military. Alternative fuels are on the cusp of similar cutting-edge development.
Last week, the U.S. Senate voted 62-37 in favor of my amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, authorizing the Defense Department to continue its efforts to develop and use alternative fuels. I worked across the aisle to secure this bipartisan victory. Passage of this amendment, when signed into law, will ensure that our military has the resources it needs to develop and use advanced alternative fuels that bring down costs, improve mission capabilities and reduce the strategic vulnerabilities associated with a reliance on foreign fossil fuels.
The Defense Department's commitment to energy innovation is smart and strategic, especially when we consider how a heavy reliance on foreign oil increases the annual Pentagon budget. Our military consumes more than 300,000 barrels every day, so price spikes have an enormous effect on the DOD budget and mission. When the price of oil increases by a dollar per barrel, the Pentagon's annual fuel budget skyrockets by more than $130 million.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta highlighted the critical link between clean energy innovation and energy security in a recent speech: "As one of the largest landowners and energy consumers in the world, our drive is to be more efficient and environmentally sustainable. We have to be able to have the potential to transform the nation's approach to the challenges we are facing in the environment and energy security."
I could not agree more.
Over the past decade, all branches of the military have expanded their investments in energy innovation. They have made significant efforts to reduce energy consumption and increase the use of efficient energy technologies. The DOD has also worked to develop alternative energy sources such as biofuels, portable solar panels and advanced batteries. Simply put, the military is leading the way toward reducing our reliance on foreign oil -- and if past success is any indicator, we can reach that goal. But we can't turn back before reaching the summit.
In Colorado, we understand the importance of a balanced energy approach. Our national security, economy and environment are all significantly affected by our energy policies, which is why I support a comprehensive approach.
As we consider the National Defense Authorization Act and look forward to 2013, I plan to continue to advocate for a smart and strategic energy policy that keeps all options on the table and makes our nation stronger and safer. As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am uniquely positioned to ensure that common sense -- and Western pragmatism -- remain a part of our defense and energy policies.