Clean Energy Military Engagement A Positive Action

Progressives have never been very good about admitting – let alone claiming – victory. Ask your average progressive what he thinks of President Obama’s law expanding access to good health insurance in the United States and he’ll sigh and list the ways it falls short. Forget about finding silver linings on cloudy days; progressives habitually locate the clouds in what you thought was a peerless blue sky.

But please, people, don’t blow it with the military and its deeply green direction. Don’t let your disdain for the war machine get in the way of the massive effort under way by the U.S. Department of Defense to develop and deploy alternative energy technologies.

green military

image via U.S. Marine Corps/Gunnery Sgt. William Price

When it comes to energy policy, the military is a tree-hugger’s fantasy come true. The country as a whole doesn’t have a renewable energy standard, but the Pentagon does. It’s written into law, and it’s a thing of beauty. From Section 2911 of Title 10 of the United States Code: “It shall be the goal of the Department of Defense … to produce or procure not less than 25 percent of the total quantity of facility energy it consumes within its facilities during fiscal year 2025 and each fiscal year thereafter from renewable energy sources.”

So while the nation relies on a sketchy patchwork of federal, state and local initiatives to move us uncertainly toward a safer, less expensive and more sustainable energy future – initiatives that are highly vulnerable to partisan attack – the military powers forward into a bold green tomorrow. And this is deeply worrying to some progressives. A recent EarthTechling story about the Navy using biofuels to fly a newfangled drone aircraft brought the naysayers to the comments section (pasted verbatim):

How can we look forward to world peace,when we are spending time and money on finding ways to kill people more efficiently and in greater numbers,and in one shot…

Folks, don’t you find a bit of irony in this story?  Here we have the – Navy proudly pronouncing that they are now using a ‘biofuel’ to presumably, reduce the emissions, and again — presumably to save lives.  The vehicle to use the biofuel is a vehicle to blow folks to smithereens!  Amazing!…

Lord knows that when you send in an unmaned aerial war fighter which kills civilians indescriminately, said agressor should have the amount of Co2 immissions clearly at the lowest levels that technology can be attained….

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.


  • Reply December 15, 2011


    u00a0How do you think this will play as an issue in the coming presidential political season, Mr. Danko?

    • Reply December 15, 2011

      Pete Danko

      Obama could (and should) use it as a buffer against the Solyndra-inspired attacks. Visit tons of alternative-energy projects. The public will see that Solyndra is a tiny part of the picture. The Republicans might try to criticize some Pentagon alt-energy stuff — there have been some potshots from the right-leaning think tanks — but with the whole military command structure firmly on board with this green stuff, that would a risky move.

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