Top House Armed Services Dem says Trump coal export plan could hurt military

Top House Armed Services Dem says Trump coal export plan could hurt military
© Camille Fine

House Armed Services Committee ranking member Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithThe House Democrats who voted to kill impeachment effort Overnight Defense: Esper officially nominated for Defense secretary | Pentagon silent on Turkey getting Russian missile system | House, Senate headed for clash over defense bill House and Senate head for showdown on must-pass defense bill MORE (D-Wash), on Tuesday, blasted President Trump's proposal to use military bases to export coal from the West Coast to Asia, saying it could hurt military readiness. 

“This is a clear attempt to circumvent environmental oversight and protection,’ Smith said in a statement. “The Trump Administration is once again using national security as an excuse to drive their short-sighted agenda.”

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Turning U.S. military bases into export terminals “could be an encroachment risk and potentially harm military training, operations, and readiness,” while doing “nothing to help address the impacts of climate change or benefit the energy resiliency of Department of Defense installations,” Smith added.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Monday told the Associated Press that the Trump administration is considering using military bases in Washington, Oregon, California and Alaska to ship coal and natural gas to Asia.

Zinke said that may involve using “some of our naval facilities, some of our federal facilities on the West Coast.”

He mentioned the Adak Naval Air Facility in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, — which has been closed since 1997 – as one possible facility for natural gas exports.

Such a strategy is being considered, Zinke explained, as a way to sidestep opposition by the state’s leaders to allowing export terminals in their states to sell coal or gas to Asia.

“It’s in our interest for national security and our allies to make sure that they have access to affordable energy commodities,” he told the AP.

Smith joins numerous Democrats that have since pushed back on the plan, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

“The reality that this administration refuses to act on . . . is that climate change is one of the gravest national security threats facing this country,” Smith said.

Smith last year led an effort to direct the Pentagon to study military bases at risk of rising sea levels caused by climate change. The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes such language, calls climate change is a national security threat.