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House Rejects Amendments to Free Pentagon from Climate Change Policies

September 15, 2017

The U.S. House decided to continue requiring the Department of Defense to expend resources on various Obama-era climate policies.

Three amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act aimed at reversing Obama-era climate change policies imposed on the U.S. Department of Defense were voted down in the U.S. House of Representatives on July 13, as a majority opted to continue requiring the military to spend resources on green initiatives.

By a vote of 185-234, the House rejected Rep. Scott Perry’s (R-PA) amendment to remove language in the bill requiring the Department of Defense (DOD) to prepare a report on threats to military installations posed by climate change and what DOD is doing to address them. Forty-six Republicans joined 188 Democrats to defeat Perry’s amendment. No Democrat supported the amendment.

Mattis Testimony Cited

Language requiring the climate change report was placed in the bill by Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI). In making the case for the report, Langevin cited recent testimony by Defense Secretary James Mattis arguing climate change is a serious national security threat and sea level rise is already a problem at several naval bases.

On a closer vote, 203 in favor and 218 against, lawmakers rejected an amendment by Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) to prevent DOD from purchasing alternative fuels more expensive than conventional fuels. One Democrat, Rep. Filemon Vela of Texas, joined 202 Republicans in supporting Buck’s amendment. Thirty-two Republicans joined 186 Democrats in voting to force the Pentagon to continue to purchase more expensive alternative fuels.

Also defeated was an amendment offered by Rep. Mike Conway (R-TX) to prohibit the Pentagon from entering into new contracts to purchase biofuels as long as automatic spending cuts are in effect. The vote was 198 to 226.

Another defense bill climate amendment failed to make it out of the House Rules Committee, which blocked an amendment offered by Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) from coming to a vote before the full House floor. Davidson’s amendment would have barred the Pentagon from implementing President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13693 requiring DOD to create numerous climate programs and policies throughout the department.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute had sent a letter signed by 17 nonprofit organizations to the House expressing support for the Davidson amendment.

Nine Times As Expensive

A 2015 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found DOD paid $29 per gallon for alternative fuels, nearly 900 percent higher than the cost of traditional fossil fuels, at a cost to taxpayers of $58.6 million, as part of the Obama-era “Great Green Fleet” initiative. DOD was required to purchase two million gallons of alternative fuels to establish their efficacy by 2016.

GAO examined the Pentagon’s fuel-purchasing policies from 2007 to 2014, which includes the last two years of the George W. Bush administration and the first six years of the Obama administration. GAO found the Pentagon purchased 32 billion gallons of petroleum-based fuel at a cost of $107.2 billion, or $3.35 per gallon, during the period studied. Although the price of alternative fuels proved much higher than estimated or than petroleum-based alternatives, DOD determined alternative fuels largely met safety, performance, and reliability standards for military equipment.

‘Lives at Risk’

Craig Rucker, executive director of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, says the votes on the DOD climate initiatives failed taxpayers and national security.

“The House had a golden opportunity to reorder priorities at the Pentagon and blew it,” said Rucker. “Evidence is overwhelming the greening of the Defense Department undermines its core mission and wastes taxpayer money.”

Chuck Daniel, president of the Caesar Rodney Institute, said the Pentagon’s green energy efforts could cost people’s lives.

“Force-feeding the U.S. military a steady diet of underperforming and overpriced fuel is highly irresponsible and puts lives at risk,” Daniel said. “In the name of environmental correctness, we are jeopardizing national security.”

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D. (bcohen@nationalcenter.org) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.

INTERNET INFO

Government Accountability Office, “Defense Energy: Observations on DOD’s Investments in Alternative Fuels, A Report to the Chairman, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives,” July 2015: https://www.heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/observations-on-dods-investments-in-alternative-fuels

Official Connections:

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA): https://perry.house.gov/; https://perry.house.gov/forms/writeyourrep/default.aspx

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI): https://langevin.house.gov/; https://langevin.house.gov/contact-me/email-me

Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO): https://buck.house.gov/; https://buck.house.gov/contact/email/

Author
Bonner R. Cohen is a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, a position he has held since 2002.
bcohen@nationalcenter.org