June 09, 2011

DOD Energy Legislation Galore!

catching up on my email and RSS now that I’m back in D.C., I realize that I
missed quite a lot of activity in the DOD energy realm. True (sad?) story:
while abroad I heard a lot about Weiner and Tressel, but nothing about the
Defense Authorization passing.

start with the biggest news: yesterday morning new DOD energy legislation
co-authored Giffords-energyby Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Colorado Senator
Mark Udall dropped. The DOD Energy Security Act (DODESA), an updated version of their
bill from last year, would, for example, provide for energy efficiency and
conservation measures, support DOD’s use of its bases as energy test beds, promote
cross-service energy initiatives, allow long-term contracting for alternative
fuels and support stronger energy management training. All great, budget-wise
stuff for promoting DOD’s energy security. I don’t see the full text online
quite yet (we'll post it when it hits), but the summary is
on Scribd
, and you can watch
the 2011 DODESA’s announcement with Senator Udall
and others on YouTube.

DOD Energy Blog also faithfully tracked and commented on some of the other major
energy movements that went down the past two weeks. Among other
energy measures introduced
, it appears that the House passed a measure in
the FY12
to state that the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act requirement
that federal agencies only purchase alternative fuels with lower lifecycle
greenhouse gas emissions than the petroleum they’d displace “shall not apply to
the Department of Defense” (Section 844). This is to pave the way to DOD
re-engaging in coal-to-liquids fuel ventures – a measure that I disagree with
in the strongest terms. Luckily, Navy officials and others have already vocalized
that this is not the path they wish to take
. Or as Dan Nolan summed
it up nicely
: “Congress would now be giving the Military permission to act
contrary to its own best interest. Hopefully, having the ability to do a dumb
thing and actually doing it are separate events.”

a more pragmatic note, Section 346 requires the following:

An evaluation of
practices used in contingency operations during the previous fiscal year and
potential improvements to such practices to reduce vulnerabilities associated
with fuel convoys, including improvements in tent and structure efficiency,
improvements in generator efficiency, and displacement of liquid fuels with
on-site renewable energy generation. Such evaluation should identify challenges
associated with the deployment of more efficient structures and equipment and
renewable energy generation, and recommendations for overcoming such challenges.

seems reasonable – as long as it is meant to ensure a robust process for taking
lessons learned and improving on them, and not fodder for folks who oppose
energy diversification for DOD to take those lessons out of context.

are 2 other key energy measures that I highly endorse: Section 311,
which requires the Chairman to appoint a senior energy official to the Joint
Staff; and Section 1222, which requires one of DOD’s affiliated FFRDCs to
report on the energy security challenges of our NATO allies, with a specific
focus on the lack of supplier options for many NATO countries.

in a shift from the past, the media is all
this topic. In addition to good coverage of the NDAA sections outlined
above, National Journal’s cover story last week from Coral
Davenport and Yochi Dreazen was on DOD energy efforts, with a great focus on
how DOD can influence private sector innovation. In Aviation Week Paul McCleary has a good overview of DOD energy
and adds in a bit of useful history to frame the importance of the jump in
activity we’ve seen in 2010 and 2011. And so much more, as Will & I try to Tweet as much as we can.
Keep an eye out as the Senate works on the NDAA as well now. Things are going
to get interesting.

Photo of Congresswoman Giffords, DODESA 2011 co-author, courtesy of her website.