January 13, 2011

FY2011 NDAA Stresses Importance of DOD Energy Security and Attention to Rare Earths

Introducing Zachary Keck, the newest member to join the ranks of the Natural Security Blog! Zach is a Joseph S. Nye, Jr. National Security Research Intern with the Natural Security program. He is currently pursuing his undergraduate degree in International Relations at the State University of New York at New Paltz. In addition to a range of natural security issues, Zach’s research interests include the broader Asia-Pacific region, which you will see as Zach becomes an active contributor here on the Natural Security Blog.     

Last Friday, President Obama signed the Fiscal Year 2011 National Defense Authorization Act (PDF). The bill had been stuck in legislation logjam for months over concerns regarding “Don’t ask Don’t tell,” closing Joint Forces Command in Virginia, and even illegal immigration..

Although there is not a ton in the bill related to natural security, there are some interesting sections worth reading.  Here is a quick primer on the sections worth looking at for those readers who would not otherwise plan on reading through the whole 383 page document:

On Energy Security

Sec. 241- Congress stresses the need for more efficient semi conductors and the need for more attention to be given to the next generation of integrated circuits.

Sec. 242- Authorizes the Defense Secretary to, should he choose, cooperate with the Secretary of Energy to establish an “energy security pilot program involving one or more partnerships between one military installation and one national laboratory, for the purpose of evaluating and validating secure, salable microgrid components and systems for deployment.” This program would work to, “evaluate and validate the performance of new energy technologies that may be incorporated into operating environments .” (40)

The Defense Secretary must authorize the program by July 1, 2011 and it will last until October 1, 2015. An initial report must be submitted by October 1, 2011.

Sec. 842- Requires of the Secretary of Defense to submit a report within a 180 days updating Congress on actions taken in compliance with the Department of Defense Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan, written after the Obama administration issued Executive Order 13514 (PDF),  to prioritize green energy.

Sec. 901 (B) Renames the Director of Operational Energy Plans and Programs the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs.

Sec. 2832- Requires that the Secretary of Defense submit a master plan detailing what the Department expects as far as its energy needs, performance, and investments. Each military service and defense agency will be responsible for producing their own separate master plan that the Secretary will combine and submit to Congress. 

Sec. 2853- Requires the Director of the Defense Logistics Agency to submit a report to Congress detailing various aspects of the Departments fuel infrastructure, such as the expected cost of sustaining and modernizing fuel infrastructure and the “environmental liabilities associated with current fueling operations.”

On Rare Earth Minerals

Sec. 843- Requires the Secretary of Defense to make an assessment on the supply and demand of rare earth elements and submit a report of his findings to Congress within 180 days. Congress advises the Secretary to highlight particular materials that meet the following two requirements:

(A) The rare earth material is critical to the production, sustainment, or operation of significant United States military equipment.

(B) The rare earth material is subject to interruption of supply, based on actions or events outside the control of the Government of the United States. (147)

We will watch for these congressionally mandated DOD reports, and  be sure to comment on them as they are released.