By Laura Barron-Lopez - 07/22/14 05:41 PM EDT
All Pentagon operations in the U.S. and abroad are threatened by climate change, according to a Defense Department official.
"The effects of the changing climate affect the full range of Department activities, including plans, operations, training, infrastructure, acquisition, and longer-term investments," Daniel Chiu, deputy assistant secretary of Defense for strategy and force development, told senators at a hearing on Tuesday.
Chiu testified before a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on the implications of energy and climate change policies.
Given the perceived threats, Chiu said climate change is playing a key role in international efforts.
"We plan to more fully integrate the impacts of climate change into our humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and other exercise plans," Chiu said.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) ranking member on the subcommittee, challenged the notion that climate change issues must play a key role abroad.
Barrasso railed against the Obama administration's international climate change programs from 2010 to 2012, which he said cost the U.S. taxpayer $7.5 billion that should have been spent on fighting terrorism and aggression in the Middle East or Eastern Europe.
"Folks in my home state of Wyoming would call this spending wasteful and irresponsible at best, especially as our friends and allies struggle with violent, deadly crises that have real implications for our security," Barrasso said.
Russia's energy stranglehold on Ukraine, which received global attention after the annexation of Crimea, shows no end in sight, and has drummed up concern among U.S. lawmakers over U.S. energy security and where, if at all, climate change should be included in energy talks.
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said the two issues are linked more now than ever when it comes to international conflicts and U.S. foreign policy.
"Two major factors have emerged in the modern era that act to strain the strands of stability until they snap; climate change and energy security," Markey said on Tuesday.