Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren introduced legislation to conscript the military into the fight against global warming, mandating non-combat bases meet the goals of the Green New Deal.
“[C]onsistent with the objectives of the Green New Deal, the Pentagon should achieve net zero carbon emissions for all its non-combat bases and infrastructure by 2030,” the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate wrote in a Medium post published Wednesday.
Warren introduced the bicameral bill Wednesday with Democratic Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar. Warren said the military can help “win” the fight against global warming by phasing out fossil fuels at non-combat bases.
“We don’t have to choose between a green military and an effective one,” Warren wrote. “My energy and climate resiliency plan will improve our service members’ readiness and safety, all while achieving cost savings for American taxpayers.”
“Our military understands that, and it’s time our elected leaders did as well. Together, we can work with our military to fight climate change — and win,” she wrote.
Democrats have argued global warming comes with national security risks since the Obama administration, in particular during the push to pass cap-and-trade legislation that failed in 2010. The Pentagon listed global warming as a “threat multiplier” that same year.
U.S. military officials have stuck to that line, despite President Donald Trump eliminating climate concerns from national security plans. Instead, the Trump administration has championed “energy dominance” over global warming.
Warren’s bill would create a dedicated funding source for hardening military bases against natural disasters, and it would impose a fee on military contractors that aren’t carbon neutral. The bill would also pump billions of dollars into microgrids and energy storage for renewable energy.
However, the U.S. military failed to implement its existing “net-zero” program aimed at using more renewable energy, reducing water consumption and recycling more. A 2016 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found the “net-zero” program, launched in 2008, hadn’t been implemented.
“Service officials told us they believe that fully achieving net zero is unrealistic and ultimately cost prohibitive,” GAO reported, adding that only the Army even bothered to spend money studying the feasibility of such a program.
Other past military efforts to go green have been met with high costs and political backlash. For example, the U.S. Navy’s “Great Green Fleet” made headlinesafter spending $424 million for 20,055 gallons of biofuels.
The Navy spent another $210 million to build biofuel refineries, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture spent $161 million in crop subsidies to support military biofuel efforts.
The Green Fleet officially deployed in early 2016, using diesel blended with 10 percent biofuels made mostly from beef tallow. However, even that low-level blend of biofuels proved to be more expensive than conventional ship fuel.
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