As a pilot site in the Army's net zero initiative, Fort Hunter Liggett in California is home to a solar microgrid project, pictured above. The first of four phases of the project was completed in April 2012 and generates one megawatt of electricity, enough to power 250 to 300 homes. Phase two is scheduled for completion this month. The project aims to increase the energy security of the base by producing all of its required electricity, making it independent of the macro-grid system.
In other solar news, a Maryland inventor claims that his recent patent of a flat panel “Solar Trap” will dramatically reduce the cost of generating electricity from solar energy and upend the global energy market.
Photo: Courtesy John Prettyman and the U.S. Army.
Some recent happenings in the Arctic:
For the first time, the February 2013 Government Accountability Office High-Risk Series Report lists climate change as a high financial risk factor for the U.S. government. Specifically, it addresses the impacts of climate change on agricultural production and the U.S. government’s ability to respond to impending agricultural crises. Citing the United States Global Change Research Program, the report states, “the impacts and costliness of weather disasters- resulting from floods [and] drought- will increase in significance as what are considered ‘rare’ events become more common and intense due to climate change.” The potential costs to the federal government are substantial, particularly with regards to its role as “insurer of property and crops vulnerable to climate impacts.”
GAO’s prescience has proven evident in recent weeks. The Midwest (to include Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, North and South Dakota, and Wisconsin) has experienced debilitating extremes of drought and floods. Every county in Kansas and 89 of the 93 counties in Nebraska have been declared drought emergencies well before harvest season. Simultaneously, 48 of the 102 counties in Illinois experienced flooding and devastation of crop land.
The implications of the drought and flood cycle are far-reaching for U.S. markets and policy. According to the USDA and the EPA, the affected region accounts for 85% of U.S. corn production, 81% of U.S. soybean production, and approximately 67% of U.S. wheat production. Corn exports comprise the largest net contribution to the U.S. agricultural trade balance of all agricultural commodities- highlighting the importance of developing effective crop crisis response.
Drought and flood will continue to persist as long-term problems. Yet the current fiscally constrained environment further limits the government’s ability to respond in an ad-hoc fashion to crop disasters resulting from climate change. GAO recommends a new look at the way federal crop insurance functions, taking into account permanent changes in climate patterns that have emerged since the inception of federal crop and flood insurance programs. It also recommends concerted efforts at data collection and analysis to ascertain the impacts of long-term climate change exposure- both on agriculture and the structure of insurance. Most importantly, the GAO recommends a stronger relationship between the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of Homeland Security regarding the effects of climate change on agricultural production- establishing U.S. food security as a matter of national security.
Photo: Drought designations as of May 2, 2013. Courtesy USDA Farm Service Agency.
On April 30, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) released a new assessment for oil and gas reserves in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. The assessment includes new estimates for the Three Forks Formation and updated estimates for the Bakken Formation.
By combining the estimates for Three Forks and Bakken, the USGS found that the region has far greater reserves of oil and natural gas than previously thought. The USGS estimates that the two formations have a total of approximately 7.4 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil, which is twice the amount that was reported in the 2008 assessment.
The recent assessment also found that the Three Forks and Bakken formations have a combined 6.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 0.53 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, representing a threefold increase from 2008 estimates.
The use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies to extract shale gas and light tight oil has unlocked the productive potential of the Bakken and Three Forks formations. As a result, the USGS has designated the shale gas and light tight oil as “technically recoverable,” meaning they are “producible using currently available technology and industry practices.” Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have brought about what some are calling an American energy revolution by allowing companies to access unconventional resources, which were previously thought of as unrecoverable.
The true extent of unconventional oil and natural gas reserves in the United States is uncertain, however, because assessments of technically recoverable reserves are far more predictive than they are factual. For example, in January 2012 the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) drastically reduced their estimates of technically recoverable shale gas in the United States. In the 2012 Annual Energy Outlook, the EIA cut its estimates to 482 trillion cubic feet, far lower than the 2011 estimate of 827 trillion cubic feet. This reduction can largely be attributed to a reassessment of the Marcellus shale formation, based on additional drilling and production data. The revised estimate of 141 trillion cubic feet for the Marcellus formation was a 66 percent decline from 2011 numbers.
While tight oil production in the Bakken and Three Forks formations has the potential to upend the global energy order and dramatically reduce U.S. oil imports, the extent of the resource and ultimate production levels in the United States, and subsequent effect on the geopolitics of energy, are by no means a foregone conclusion.
Photo: A drill in the Bakken oil field of North Dakota. Courtesy Stephanie Gaswirth and the USGS.
Last week, Tom Donilon, National Security Advisor to the President, spoke at the launch of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. In his speech, Donilon discussed the interplay of increased domestic production of oil and gas with U.S. national security and foreign policy. Donilon highlighted 5 key themes in this interrelationship:
1) A stronger domestic economy. Donilon tied the economic benefits of cheap and abundant natural gas, including job creation in the form of a manufacturing renaissance in energy-intensive and gas-dependent sectors, to American influence abroad: “Our strength at home is critical to our strength in the world, and our energy boom has proven to be an important driver for our economic recovery—boosting jobs, economic activity, and government revenues.”
2) Increased flexibility and leverage in foreign policy. In particular, increased domestic production of oil helped to maintain the stability of global oil prices by offsetting the reduction of 1 million barrels of Iranian crude from the international market due to increased sanctions on Iran. Greater flexibility in global supply allowed the United States and the EU to tighten sanctions and further discourage Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons. And they were effective – Iran’s oil exports fell by 39 percent in 2012, which will not go unnoticed by a government that is dependent on oil for over half its revenue.
3) A more globally robust natural gas market. The benefits of a more robust global gas market include a diversity of supply, delinking of gas prices from oil indexed contracts, less leverage of “traditional dominant natural gas suppliers” (i.e. Russia over Europe), and natural gas “bridging” to a less carbon-intensive economy. Ultimately, DOE’s upcoming decisions whether or not to approve the construction of LNG export terminals will determine the extent of a globally integrated gas market.
4) Maintained commitment to the Middle East. Increased domestic production is not an excuse for global retrenchment. Reduced dependence on Middle Eastern oil does not negate other U.S. security interests in the region. In Donilon’s words:
We have a set of enduring national security interests in the Middle East, including our unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security; our global nonproliferation objectives, including our commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon; our ongoing national interest in fighting terrorism that threatens our personnel, interests and our homeland; our strong national interest in pursuit of Middle East peace; our historic stabilizing role in protecting regional allies and partners and deterring aggression; and our interest in ensuring the democratic transitions in Yemen, North Africa and ultimately in Syria succeed.
It is important to note that Donilon does not mention “energy independence” in his speech. Despite politicians’ consistent rhetoric to the contrary, “energy independence” is a misnomer. Oil is a global commodity, and international events that hinder supply will affect the price of oil in the United States. As a result, continued U.S. engagement in the world is necessary to ensuring greater stability in energy markets.
5) Climate change as a national security challenge. Donilon views the increased frequency and severity of natural disasters domestically and internationally as a threat to national security. The potential instability wrought by climatic changes can be a threat multiplier and can impact military installations around the world. For Donilon, “this underscores the need – for the sake of our national security -- to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change and to ensure that we are as prepared as possible for the impacts of climate change.”
Security of the nation’s electrical system from cyber attacks has received much attention as of late, but a recent event reminds us of the vulnerabilities in physical security. Last weekend, a security officer at Watts Bar nuclear power plant in eastern Tennessee exchanged gunfire with a man attempting to break into the facility. When confronted, the man opened fire on the officer, and a gunfight ensued. The officer was not harmed, and the gunman fled the area after the exchange.
The FBI, Nuclear Regulatory Commission and local authorities are investigating the incident. The gunman remains at large.
While little information is known about the suspect, this incident demonstrates the physical security challenges posed by our electricity system. Nuclear facilities, of course, are particularly high profile targets that require a level of physical security far greater than that of other power plants. Nuclear facilities are required to have extensive security plans, and the response at the Watts Bar plant proved effective. But this event should serve as a reminder of the physical vulnerability of the U.S. electricity system writ large. The threat of a concentrated, coordinated attack is troubling and should not be ignored.
Reliance on centralized power plants and an outdated grid makes the electricity system vulnerable to terrorist attacks. A coordinated physical attack on several power plants and/or the grid itself could cause extensive and sustained power outages, which would have dire effects. According to Scott Pugh at the Department of Homeland Security, an attacker who understood vulnerabilities in the grid could use a “hunting rifle from a couple hundred yards away” to take out six key substations and “black out most of the U.S. east of the Mississippi.” And a more sophisticated attack, such as an electromagnetic pulse, could shut down large parts of U.S. electricity infrastructure for months. Food distribution, telecommunications, banking, heating/cooling systems, medical and safety infrastructure and security institutions (such as DoD installations) are all dependent on the grid and would struggle to function. Such an event would cause tremendous economic disruption and widespread chaos. Imagine the impacts of Hurricane Sandy, which caused over 8 million homes to lose power and necessitated 57,000 additional utility workers to restore it, but magnified many times over due to the targeted nature of an attack.
Last week, I participated in the CCAPS Shifting Conflict Patterns in Africa: Drivers of Instability and Strategies for Cooperation conference, during which policymakers, practitioners, military personnel and scholars discussed the various demographic, political and environmental drivers of instability in Africa. Participants at the conference identified strategies for improved collaboration with African nations so as to mitigate the risk of instability and conflict.
The conference highlighted how climate-related extreme weather events and environmental degradation may exacerbate underlying social and political tensions, inequalities and demographic conditions that are already putting pressure on resources and governments, many of which are fragile and lack state capacity. In particular, climate change will accelerate cross-border migration and urbanization, which could fuel regional tensions and destabilize local governments if they do not have the resources and infrastructure to support the influx of people.
Photo: Two U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Enforcement Specialists provide security at Rowes Wharf in Boston on April 15. Boston-based Coast Guard units have increased their patrols since the bombing at the Boston Marathon. Photo courtesy Petty Officer 3rd Class MyeongHi Clegg and the United States Coast Guard.
Capitol Hill was active in the energy security arena this week.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and responded to questions about the Keystone XL pipeline. Secretary Kerry said he is “staying as far away from that as I can” because the Keystone review process is not complete. Kerry will make the final decision, but he believes “it is not yet ripe” for him to do so. The review process continues on Thursday with the State Department’s public hearing on the pipeline in Grand Island, Nebraska.
In other news, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday. Poneman stated that DOE is nearly ready to make decisions on applications for the exportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG). These decisions will likely ultimately fall to Ernest Moniz, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Energy. Moniz has signaled support for natural gas, but has not yet been definitive on his position on LNG exports. Moniz received bipartisan support in a 21-1 vote in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday and will face a confirmation vote before the full Senate in the near future.
On April 5, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that the largest renewable energy project in U.S. military history is expected to begin soon at Fort Bliss, Texas. Once operational, the project will contribute to Fort Bliss’ strategic objective of achieving energy self-sufficiency and the Army’s broader goal of using 25 percent renewable energy by 2015.
The Fort Bliss project has received the green light from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. El Paso Electric will construct the 20 megawatt solar farm, which will power all of the division headquarters and the eastern sector of the base.
Saturday marked John Kerry’s inaugural visit to China as acting Secretary of State. While North Korea’s most recent episode of belligerence took center stage and dominated the news, the United States and China also released a joint statement promising cooperation on climate change.
The joint statement called for “forceful” action on climate change through “large-scale” cooperation. According to the statement,
Both sides also noted the significant and mutual benefits of intensified action and cooperation on climate change, including enhanced energy security, a cleaner environment, and more abundant natural resources. They also reaffirmed that working together both in the multilateral negotiation and to advance concrete action on climate change can serve as a pillar of the bilateral relationship, build mutual trust and respect, and pave the way for a stronger overall collaboration. Both sides noted a common interest in developing and deploying new environmental and clean energy technologies that promote economic prosperity and job creation while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
While this is not the first example of engagement between the United States and China on climate change, it is notably different than previous arrangements. The agreement increases dialogue by forming a Climate Change Working Group to determine specific ways in which the two countries can advance climate cooperation through research, conservation and technology. The Working Group will deliver a report at July’s Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), which is an annual meeting between American and Chinese cabinet level officials to discuss broad strategic, economic and security opportunities and challenges.
The Obama administration signaled continued commitment to advanced biofuels research and fuel supply diversification in the President’s FY 2014 budget proposal, released this week. From the proposed budget:
The Budget continues to promote fuel supply diversification by providing $282 million at DOE to develop and demonstrate conversion technologies to produce cellulosic ethanol and other advanced biofuels, such as algae-derived biofuels and “drop-in” replacements for diesel and jet fuel, for civilian and military uses.
As the U.S. Navy works to diversify its fuel supply (partly through advanced biofuels) and deploy a “Great Green Fleet” in 2016, it should coordinate with ongoing efforts at the Department of Energy. By doing so, the Navy could strive to reduce costs, avoid redundancies and drive appropriate technological advancements.
For context, the Navy’s biofuel purchase for its 2012 "Great Green Fleet" demonstration, pictured above, carried a price tag of $26 per gallon in 2011, down from $424 a gallon in 2009.
Photo: The Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser delivers a 50-50 blend of fuel to the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton during the "Great Green Fleet" demonstration. Courtesy of Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew M. Jandik and the U.S. Navy.
President Obama’s nominee to lead the Department of Energy, Ernest Moniz, received bipartisan support on the Hill on Tuesday and appears likely to sail through the confirmation process.
Moniz, a physicist at MIT and former undersecretary of energy, has made his support for natural gas production in the United States clear, and he used Tuesday’s hearings as an opportunity to double down on this position. According to the Washington Post, Moniz said he would use the natural gas boom as a means of reducing carbon emissions, increasing domestic energy production and expanding manufacturing job growth.
While Moniz appeared unequivocal in his views on natural gas, he was less clear on his position concerning liquefied natural gas (LNG) exportation. Moniz’s position on the issue is paramount to the future on LNG exportation, because the Department of Energy is responsible for approving companies’ applications to construct LNG export terminals.
After four years, it is bittersweet for me to close this chapter of my professional life. Today is my last day at CNAS and at the helm of the Natural Security program. Starting tomorrow, I’ll be moving down the street to the august halls of the U.S. Senate.
I came to CNAS in April 2009 to join a team dedicated to exploring, at the time, a niche research area on the intersection of natural resources and national security policy – what you know as, “Natural Security.” And it is quite amazing to see how quickly this area of study has garnered serious attention in the national security community.
Before, policy concerning natural resources and the security implications of natural resource consumption were often considered, in defense parlance, things “other than war.” But today, the defense community is giving more attention to how sustainable access to natural resources can produce huge dividends for America’s war fighters. The Department of Defense, for example, is making deliberate choices about how it consumes energy, with ever more attention to reducing the vulnerability of its dependence on petroleum through conservation and efficiency measures. Meanwhile, DOD is making smart investments in alternative fuels to ensure that the U.S. military can operate on a variety of energy sources, making every effort to provide our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines with the fuel they need to complete their missions and safeguard American interests.
Move over, America.
East Africa has emerged as the newest potential player in the future geopolitics of energy. From oil in Kenya to natural gas in Mozambique, a region long thought to be devoid of energy resources is now receiving significant international attention. The opportunities and challenges of energy wealth abound in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique.
In Kenya, the U.K.’s Tullow Oil and Canada’s Africa Oil Corporation have struck black gold in the Great Rift Valley. In the coming years, the “Cradle of Mankind” may yield more than the bones of ancient humanoids. The companies making plays in the region are fast-tracking their exploration and evaluation, with plans to drill 11 new wells in 2013 (up from 2 in 2012). The region remains largely unexplored, but the companies are optimistic. According to Bloomberg, Tullow Oil estimates that the Rift Valley alone could yield as much as 10 billion barrels of oil. While such large reserves are not yet proven and production in Kenya is in its nascent stages, appropriate physical and legal infrastructure development and continued successful plays in the region could unlock East Africa as a vital source of supply to Asian markets in the coming decades.
The policy community has given increasing attention to 3D printing, the process of constructing 3-dimensional objects from a digital model by layering materials – from polymers to metals – in an additive manufacturing process. There are myriad applications of 3D printing, from building repair parts to whole homes. Some, including our colleagues at the Center for Climate and Security, have written on the promises of 3D printing to transform global trade and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, or to make countries more resilient to climate change by making supply chains less vulnerable to natural disasters.
The Army’s Rapid Equipping Force (REF) has been using 3D printers in combat theatres, including Afghanistan, in order to reduce operational vulnerabilities associated with logistic tails. Last November, Wired Magazine reported that “At Camp Nathan Smith outside of Kandahar, there's a 20-foot cargo container loaded with a 3D printer, a computer-controlled machine for cutting metal, and a couple of Ph.D.s. It's one of three REF ‘expeditionary labs’ placed around Afghanistan that can quickly design and prototype tools for troops on the ground right now.”
In this photo, Army researchers at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center experiment with different designs of protective masks for soldiers. Similar types of equipment, like replacement bolts for soldiers' rifles, are already being fielded in Afghanistan through the Army's REF.
Photo: Courtesy of Tom Faulkner and RDECOM Public Affairs.
Last week, the San Diego-based Sapphire Energy, Inc. announced a commercial partnership with the San Antonio-based Tesoro to refine the company’s algae-based “green” crude oil into fuels suitable for today’s infrastructure and engines.
(In the interest of full disclosure: Sapphire Energy, Inc. is a general supporter of the Center for a New American Security.)
“In less than one year, Sapphire Energy has started up its commercial demonstration to grow algae; has produced crude oil from our farm; and now with Tesoro as our first commercial customer, we’re providing barrels of our oil to be refined for market use,” Cynthia ‘CJ’ Warner, CEO and chairman of Sapphire Energy, said in a press release.
The volume of algae-based crude oil made available to Tesoro is small compared to the company’s refinery capacity. Sapphire today is producing about 2 barrels a day; Tesoro can refine about 675,000 barrels a day. But Sapphire is continuing to grow. “[Sapphire’s] demonstration plant was funded in part by a $50 million U.S. Energy Department grant and a $54.4 million loan guarantee from the Department of Agriculture,” Bloomberg reported. “It’s expected to produce as much as 100 barrels a day by the end of 2014.”
Tim Zenk, Sapphire’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs, told Quartz that despite the small volume of “green” crude oil that the company is selling to Tesoro, the commercial partnership nevertheless marks a watershed moment in the commercialization of renewable biofuel: “It re-enforces that the renewable crude oil we’re producing is market viable and works with the existing network of pipelines and transportation systems.”
Today is World Water Day, a day to promote awareness of the acute water and food shortages plaguing the estimated 1 out of 8 people in the world that lack reliable access to clean drinking water.
Last year, then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that water is “an essential ingredient of global peace, stability, and security,” adding, “We think it actually is our duty and responsibility to make sure that this water issue stays at the very top of America’s foreign policy and national security agenda.”
Secretary Clinton’s remarks last year coincided with the release of an intelligence community assessment on Global Water Security, a study commissioned by the State Department to analyze the effect of water on U.S. foreign policy and national security interests. “This assessment is a landmark document that puts water security in its rightful place as part of national security,” Secretary Clinton said of the report.
Photo: An aerial view of one of the tributaries of the Niger River. Courtesy of Shaw McCutcheon and the United Nations.
America’s relationship with the Middle East’s energy resources is changing as U.S. domestic oil production continues to grow. A combination of hydraulic fracturing, horizontal drilling and advanced seismic technologies have contributed to the largest annual growth in U.S. crude oil production since Colonel Edwin Drake first drilled for oil in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859. Most of the crude oil is coming from shale formations in North Dakota and Texas – what we call “light tight oil.” Since 2010, the United States has, on average, increased monthly crude oil production by 50,000 barrels a day.
Not all of this U.S. light tight oil is displacing Middle East crude, of course. A number of factors matter, most importantly the crude oil grade. The United States is producing light tight oil, that is, low-density crude oil, whereas the United States imports heavier crudes from the Persian Gulf, including from Saudi Arabia. Moreover, U.S. refineries have been increasingly geared to absorb heavier crudes, from the Persian Gulf, but more so from Canada, Mexico and Venezuela.
Nevertheless, the glut in U.S. crude oil production and declining demand for oil (a consequence of slow economic growth and more fuel efficient vehicles) have contributed to a powerful notion that the United States is relying less and less on oil from the Persian Gulf and could conceivably help wean America off crude oil imports from the Middle East entirely (a debatable point).
Whether or not one believes that the United States can break the tether to Middle East oil, U.S. allies and partners in the Persian Gulf are increasingly nervous about America’s long-term security commitment to the region. After all, if the United States no longer relies on energy from the region, why should American foot the bill for protecting the sea lanes – that backbone of the crude oil trade in the region – or so the narrative goes.
The United States has a number of stakes in stability of the Persian Gulf oil trade even if it does rely less on oil from the region. Supply shocks will contribute to higher global oil prices, which will be felt at home. Moreover, supply shocks are damaging to our allies, particularly those in East Asia that have grown more dependent on oil and gas from the Middle East and North Africa. But there are other legitimate security concerns as well, which were not far from General Martin Dempsey’s mind when he responded to a question on Monday about how the American energy revolution will impact U.S. interests and presence in the Persian Gulf. Here’s what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said:
Today marks the 75th anniversary of the nationalization of Mexico’s oil industry.
In a January post on EnergyTrendsInsider.com, I wrote that one of the top energy trends to watch in 2013 will be developments around Mexico’s oil industry. Here is an excerpt from that post:
Mexico’s oil industry has been in a perpetual state of decline. In its heyday, the country was the world’s second largest oil producer, just behind the United States. But when the industry was nationalized in the 1930s, it all began to go south. Private foreign companies – with their capital, skills and technology – left the country and spent years seeking compensation from the government to cover their losses. In their place, the industry was left with the state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos – Pemex. Unfortunately, Pemex never quite brought the same resources to bear as its foreign competitors and has been plagued by technical deficiencies that have contributed to poor management of its oil fields and their subsequent decline. One need only look to Mexico’s Cantarell super-giant oil field as a case in point: production has sharply declined from about 2 million barrels a day (mbd) in 2004 to 400,000 barrels a day in April 2012. It bodes poorly for a government that relies on oil revenue for roughly 35 percent of its budget.
But all that is starting to change and Mexico’s moribund oil industry may be on the rebound. Since his election in July, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto started the move toward privatization of the oil industry, which would help bring the necessary capital, technology and skills to onshore oilfields that have been in decline and the deepwater oil fields that have effectively gone untapped. If the industry does turn around, Peña Nieto may singlehandedly be responsible for unleashing the country’s energy potential, potentially adding as much as 1.6 mbd of petroleum to North American output by 2020.
Mexican President Peña Nieto has run into some opposition in Congress, particularly around the future of Pemex. On Sunday, Peña Nieto tried to allay concerns that his support to allow private investment in the country’s oil sector would be the death knell for Pemex, which has long been heralded as a symbol of the 1938 nationalization order and national identity. Pemex will not “be sold, nor will it be privatized,” he said. Instead, Pemex would be “modernized and transformed.”
I recently set out to learn more about the process of fracking, with an interest in the risks and the mitigation of risks, as well as the national security implications of America’s potential natural gas glut.
While there are innumerable diagrams and images available online from a variety of sources detailing the process, I did not find any clear, coherent messaging from government and industry entities. So, I turned to a 2010 documentary titled “GasLand” where director Josh Fox appears to go to great lengths to paint fracking in the least optimistic light, climaxing with a scene in which he lights methane-laced tap water on fire as it streams from a rural Pennsylvania man’s faucet. Immediately after watching “GasLand,” I watched “FrackNation,” which originally aired on AXS TV in January 2013, by director Phelim McAleer specifically aimed at debunking the myths professed in “GasLand.” At the end of half a day in front of the television, I had more questions than I had answers.
Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, likely surprised many when he said that the biggest long-term security challenge in the Pacific is climate change.
Bryan Bender of the Boston Globe reported the statements on Saturday. Here is an excerpt from his article:
Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, in an interview at a Cambridge hotel Friday after he met with scholars at Harvard and Tufts universities, said significant upheaval related to the warming planet “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’
“People are surprised sometimes,” he added, describing the reaction to his assessment. “You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level. Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.”
Locklear said his Hawaii-based headquarters — which is assigned more than 400,00 military and civilian personnel and is responsible for operations from California to India, is working with Asian nations to stockpile supplies in strategic locations and planning a major exercise for May with nearly two dozen countries to practice the “what-ifs.”
Photo: The Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Laramie refuels the amphibious assault ship USS Peleliu on March 3, 2013, which is supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the Middle East and North Africa. Courtesy of Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Duran and the U.S. Navy.