October 14, 2010

Highlights from the Week 'O Energy Security

In case you have not been following along, it’s been a week of discussions on energy security – from the Naval Energy Forum to the Pentagon’s Energy Security Event, “Empowering Defense through Energy Security,” which included a conversation with the Army and the Air Force, as well.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen spoke yesterday at the Pentagon’s Energy Security Event, describing energy security as an enduring challenge for the U.S. military and the nation. His remarks are excellent and are worth reading in full here. But here are the big takeaways:

Simply put, we can’t think about energy after we get there … wherever “there” may be. Energy security needs to be one of the first things we think about … before we deploy another soldier … before we build another ship or plane … and before we buy or fill another rucksack.  And the demand for energy is not going to ease anytime soon.


Rather than look at energy as a commodity or a means to an end, we need to see it as an integral part of a system … a system that recognizes the linkages between consumption and our ability to pursue enduring interests. When we find reliable and renewable sources of energy, we will see benefit to our infrastructure, our environment, our bottom line … and I believe most of all … our people.


This effort is not merely altruistic; it is essential. Failing to secure, develop and employ new sources of energy … or improving how we use legacy energy systems … creates a strategic vulnerability, and if left unaddressed, could threaten national security.

You should also be sure to read Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus’s blog post on The White House Blog where he discusses the Navy’s efforts to lead the military toward a more secure energy future, not just for the military, but for the nation:

The military and the United States depend too much on fossil fuels.  But over the last two years the Department of the Navy has made significant strides to change that, and is moving toward the President’s vision of a new energy future powered by alternative energy.  The reasons for making this change are clear.  First and foremost, energy reform is about the lives of our troops.  For every 24 fuel convoys that go into Afghanistan, we lose one American, killed or wounded.  That is too high a price to pay for energy. 

We also saw the consequences of our dependence on fossil fuels when the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico this past April.  The subsequent spill not only released a torrent of oil into the Gulf, but also began a chain reaction of events that dramatically affected the livelihoods of millions of Americans living along the coast.  For months, I saw those impacts first-hand, as I worked on behalf of the President to create a plan that would allow for long-term ecosystem, health, and economic recovery on the Gulf Coast.

And we’ve seen that energy security is not just an American issue.  Just two days ago, I returned from a trip to Europe, and what was continually reinforced to me was that energy, or more appropriately denial of energy, can be used as a weapon – one just as effective as tanks and airplanes. 

Also, Secretary Mabus, speaking at the Naval Energy Forum, announced the launch of a new website to promote the new “Green Biz Opps”, according to the website, “a one-stop-shop for listings of Department of Navy acquisition requirements for energy products and services, including, but not limited to: energy conservation, alternative energy products and services, energy technologies, and other energy industry capabilities.”

Later this afternoon, CNAS Alumna Sharon Burke, now the Director of Operational Energy Plans and Programs at the Department of Defense, will discuss operation energy security in a DODLive Bloggers Roundtable forum. We’ll listen in and report back!