A Discussion On America’s Clean Energy Future

By Ashley McCormack, BlueGreen Alliance

Recently, the Pew Charitable Trusts hosted a conference at Stanford University entitled Accelerating Clean Energy: A Forum on the Intersection of Innovation and National Security.  The conference speakers included Major General Anthony L. Jackson, Commanding General, Marine Corps Installations West; former Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm; business leaders in the clean energy economy; former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz; and former U.S. Senator John W. Warner.

Overall, every speaker emphasized the need for the United States to implement a clear, long term energy plan that puts in place consistent and sustained government policies to support clean energy development. Not only is this important to help our environment, but it will also improve our national security, save money, and ensure that we compete in the global economy.  Clean Technica reported a 300 percent up-tick in clean energy investments by the US Military between 2006-2009, according to a Pew report – “From Barracks to the Battlefield: Clean Energy Innovation and America’s Armed Forces.”

image via Shutterstock

General Jackson shared some of the efforts of the Marines to decrease their energy usage. For example, each new construction project at Marine Corps Installations West (MCIWEST) must be certified LEED Silver, upholding high-energy efficiency standards. Furthermore, the bases are drastically decreasing waste, implementing smart grids, using wind and solar power, converting gas from landfills to energy, and using alternative fuel energy vehicles.

Marines see firsthand why decreasing our oil imports is crucial to protecting our nation. Today’s soldier use an average of 22 gallons of fuel per day, an increase of 175 percent since the Vietnam War; this amounts to the military using more than 300,000 barrels of oil a day. Further, from 2003 to 2007, more than 3,000 uniformed and contractor casualties were associated with the delivery of fuel. In addition, in 2010, the Department of Defense’s total energy cost was $15.2 billion. With such high costs to both human life and the monetary cost to the nation, the military is devoted to harnessing clean energy to decrease the United State’s reliance on imported oil.

The business leaders agreed with the importance of decreasing our nation’s dependence of foreign oil and the great benefits of working with the armed forces for innovative solutions. Five clean energy businesses, Vantage Point Capital Partners, Solazyme, Aero Vironment, Inc., Skyline Solar, and Johnson Controls, Inc., not only work with the Defense Department on innovative projects, but also collectively employ over 5,400 Americans. But these companies stressed that in order to continue to grow their businesses, and thus green jobs, there must be consistent, long term policies implemented on a national level to encourage innovation in the market. This is a model that has driven the rise in clean energy markets in countries such as Germany and China.

Finally, former U.S. Secretary of State Shultz and former U.S. Senator Warner echoed a similar sentiment, raising the importance of the United States to establish strong energy policy and lead the world in renewable energies.

The event demonstrated that the nation’s need to develop clean energy is truly a bipartisan issue, crucial for protecting our nation and strengthening the American economy. With all of the inspiring innovation from businesses and the military, the conference instilled hope that with the implementation of proper national policies, America can decrease reliance on foreign oil and become a global leader in clean energy development.

Editor’s Note: This column comes to us as a cross post courtesy of BlueGreen Alliance. Author credit for the column goes to Ashley McCormack.

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.