Former U.S. Army Captain and Truman Project Executive Director Mike Breen addressed the 2014 Algae Biomass Summit October 1, highlighting the role that advanced biofuels, like algae, can play in strengthening our national security.
Breen was joined by speakers including Reps. Scott Peters (D-CA) and Matt Salmon (R-CA), Co-Chairs of the Congressional Algae Caucus (via video address) and Dennis McGinn, Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Energy, Installations & Environment and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
“The military remains the largest consumer of fuel in the world,” said Breen, “heavily reliant on fossil fuels to power vehicles, ships, aircraft, and equipment. And the fuel burden will only increase. Even as we lead coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, our military is executing a strategic rebalance to the Asia Pacific. That means putting more forces into the Combatant Command with an area of responsibility covering more than half the earth’s surface. And focusing missions on our most energy intensive branches.
“The military’s concerns over its energy future are the same concerns Americans face every day. Our dependence on oil affects family budgets just like DoD’s budget when prices spike due to events outside our control. When the price of oil goes up by $10 a barrel, the DoD is left with a $1.3 billion budget shortfall. Increases in gasoline prices in 2011 cost U.S. households $73 billion compared to 2010.
“With global demand set to rise, our increased production won’t lead to price stability in the global market, meaning we’ll be chained to the same volatile dynamics that imperil our economic and national security.
“True American Energy Security can only be achieved through a comprehensive approach, relentlessly focused on three key principles: Freedom of Action, Assured Access, and Minimizing Risk. For the military this means the ability to respond quickly and decisively to threats and missions. All Americans need the same security and capability. They need to know they’ll be able to fill their tank to get to work at a reasonable price. We can only ensure access to reliable supplies of fuel if we have a diverse set of sources. We should be building markets, not chained to them.
“The 2014 QDR identifies climate change as a threat multiplier that exacerbates resource scarcity, political instability, and social tensions – conditions which enable terrorism and other forms of violence. Climate change is already creating severe global impacts – from exacerbating conflicts in Darfur and Syria to threatening military installations in Florida and Norfolk, Virginia. We must work to mitigate against those threats, through investing in energy efficiency, renewable power generation, and advanced low carbon fuels.
“Challenges of this magnitude can only be confronted with enormous innovative effort. Some might find the size of this challenge paralyzing when compared to the size of this room. But you have a duty to succeed. And I’m here to tell you that you’re not in it alone. The thousands of veterans and supporters of Operation Free are standing with you. We’re here to be your partners in this effort, so that we can grow together.”
The Truman National Security Project unites next-generation veteran, political, and policy leaders to develop and advance strong, smart, and principled solutions to the global challenges Americans now face. It is home to the clean energy campaign, Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security experts from across the country who advocate for securing America with clean energy.
Reprinted with permission from Algae Industry Magazine