Key senator eyes clean energy provisions in defense authorization bill
WASHINGTON — A lead senator on the Armed Services Committee is introducing legislation to strengthen emissions reduction targets at the world’s largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels: the Defense Department. Duckworth, who chairs the Senate’s air and land defense panel, has introduced the bill as stand-alone legislation, but she told Defense News she’d like to see it included in the annual defense authorization bill the Armed Services Committee is scheduled to mark up next month. “The [Defense Department] actually is very progressive on this,” said Duckworth. Her bill would require the Defense Department make at least 40% of its electricity generation carbon pollution free by 2024 and increase that goal to 100% by 2030.
The bill would push the Defense Department to continue investing in alternatively fueled vehicles by setting a 100% zero emission target for non-tactical vehicle acquisitions by 2035 and the same goal for tactical vehicles by 2045. To help reach these targets, the bill would allow the Pentagon to use unobligated funding beyond the end of the fiscal year for the Environmental Resilience and Conservation Investment Program. “This is going to basically give them additional flexibility and the authorities needed so that they can use those funds to do things like upgrading energy management systems and the like,” said Duckworth. President Joe Biden has set a nationwide goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, though congressional Republicans have opposed additional funding for green energy investments.
Still, Duckworth said she’s optimistic Republicans won’t oppose her legislation given the Defense Department’s support for moving to clean energy. “My Republican colleagues tend to want to support the [Department of Defense],” said Duckworth. The Pentagon started incorporating climate analysis into its wargaming last year after identifying the risks posed by climate change in its 2018 National Defense Strategy. Meanwhile, the Marine Corps announced earlier this week it is considering moving some of its bases, including South Carolina’s Parris Island, to other locations due to extreme weather requests stemming from climate change.
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