Energy & Environment

Congress caves on climate legislation - again

Although Congress has failed to enact legislation, the public is waking up to the reality of climate change and taking it much more seriously. But, to add insult to inaction, Congress is now preparing to poke a stick in the eye of countries that have taken some action. A vote passed Tuesday in the Senate Commerce Committee takes climate bashing in a whole new direction. The “Thune bill” (S.1956) actually makes it illegal for the airline industry to even comply with another country’s climate law.


'No More Solyndras Act' unnecessarily damaging

As Congress seeks to protect taxpayer investment as part of a renewable energy program that fosters innovation and job creation, they have come up short with the ‘No More Solyndras Act.’ While the DOE Loan Guarantee Program can be improved and the taxpayer certainly deserves accountability, the de facto consequences of this bill are unnecessarily damaging to business and go far beyond reasonable reforms.


Connecting the dots on climate change

On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works committee takes up the important issue of climate change science and adaptation.

Hopefully, it's a first step toward some real solutions to address record heat, drought, storms and other effects of climate change that we're now all experiencing first-hand.

When it comes to connecting the dots between climate change and extreme weather, the lines are now clear.


‘Gasland’ movie doesn’t tell the whole story

We can all agree that natural gas is a clean and abundant energy resource in the U.S. In fact, there is so much natural gas in this country that there is general consensus that it has fundamentally changed the nature of energy policy.


Working to ensure there will be no more Solyndras

With millions out of work and rising prices on basic living expenses, American families are struggling across this country just to make ends meet. They have sent their representatives to Washington to ensure that their voices are heard, and that their tax dollars are used wisely. When this doesn’t happen, Congress must hold the proper people accountable, and do everything in our power to ensure that the waste stops and never happens again. The Obama administration’s decision to give a $535 million loan guarantee to Solyndra, when the writing was on the wall about the company’s troubled financial condition, is just the kind of waste that shouldn’t happen – and that Congress should take every step to prevent.


President Obama's offshore drilling plan must be replaced

While the American people and news media were distracted by the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare, the Obama Administration quietly released its final proposed offshore drilling plan for the next five years.
Though President Obama uses lofty rhetoric to claim support for American oil and natural gas production, the administration chose to bury the announcement of this plan under mountains of news coverage. It’s no surprise that during an election year the president doesn’t want to hype a plan that represents a giant step backwards for American energy production and keeps 85 percent of our offshore areas off-limits.


Consumer demand and political will create ideal conditions for better gas mileage

Gyrating oil prices, consumer demand for better gas mileage, manufacturer response, and political consensus are setting the stage for a new national mileage standard of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) to be phased in by 2025. The standard, now being reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget and expected to be adopted this summer will be the most important new national energy policy and consumer-protection measure to be adopted in decades.


The 'Green Fleet': Changing the way we fuel our defense

Senator James Inhofe’s recent protest in these pages against the U.S. military’s field-proven use of secure, advanced biofuels overlooks both the bipartisan origins of the program and the black-and-white realities of powering the world’s largest fuel consumer in an age of unstable petroleum prices.
Today the military is dependent on a single source of fuel for most of their operations, a vulnerability for our troops and our nation. Advanced biofuels promise to be a dependable, affordable source of fuel for our military – a reality first recognized in the previous administration, when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld created a task force to explore options for reducing the military’s dependence on fossil fuels.
Since 2010, nine different U.S. Navy vessels and aircraft have been successfully powered by advanced, domestic biofuels, including the super-sonic F/A-18 “Green Hornet,” the MH-60S Seahawk helicopter, the AV-8B Harrier, the Fire Scout unmanned vehicle, the Riverine Command Boat (RCB-X) and the frigate USS Ford. The “Green Fleet” exercise is the next step in the military’s ongoing commitment to advanced fuels.
The cost of our military’s dependence on fossil fuels should not be underestimated. In FY 2011 alone, the Department of Defense saw a $3 billion budget shortfall because of rising fuel prices. Developing speculative domestic sources of fossil fuels – many of which are years from realization and themselves quite expensive – is not a solution. Oil is priced on a world market, and even if we increase domestic production or only import oil from friendly countries, we cannot control its price. Meanwhile, over the past few years producers have reduced the cost of advanced biofuels used for military testing by more than 80 percent. That trend will only continue.
Our military has also known that innovation is critical to remaining the most effective fighting force in the world. Technology like the microchip and night vision were created through military investments in innovation. If Congress had prevented the Navy from investing in navigational aids more expensive than a compass, we never would have had GPS. Advanced biofuels could be the next big breakthrough, but not if Congress prevents the military from investing in these programs.
Members of Congress should trust our military leaders when they say that advanced biofuels could be a significant contribution to their operational energy security.
Breen is the vice president of the Truman National Security Project and a surrogate for the clean energy campaign, Operation Free. As a Captain in the U.S. Army, he served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.