U.S. Department of Defense Addresses the Issue of Climate Change

Posted on February 2, 2010. Filed under: Advanced Biofuel, Field-to-Pump, Hydrous Ethanol | Tags: , , , |

Excerpts from the U.S. DoD 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review
February 1, 2010

Climate change and energy are two key issues that will play a significant role in shaping the future security environment. Although they produce distinct types of challenges, climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked. The actions that the Department takes now can prepare us to respond effectively to these challenges in the near term and in the future.

Climate change will affect DoD in two broad ways. First, climate change will shape the operating environment, roles, and missions that we undertake. The U.S. Global Change Research Program, composed of 13 federal agencies, reported in 2009 that climate-related changes are already being observed in every region of the world, including the United States and its coastal waters. Among these physical changes are increases in heavy downpours, rising temperature and sea level, rapidly retreating glaciers, thawing permafrost, lengthening growing seasons, lengthening ice-free seasons in the oceans and on lakes and rivers, earlier snowmelt, and alterations in river flows.

Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration.

While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world. In addition, extreme weather events may lead to increased demands for defense support to civil authorities for humanitarian assistance or disaster response both within the United States and overseas. In some nations, the military is the only institution with the capacity to respond to a large-scale natural disaster. Proactive engagement with these countries can help build their capability to respond to such events. Working closely with relevant U.S. departments and agencies, DoD has undertaken environmental security cooperative initiatives with foreign militaries that represent a nonthreatening way of building trust, sharing best practices on installations management and operations, and developing response capacity.

Second, DoD will need to adjust to the impacts of climate change on our facilities and military capabilities. The Department already provides environmental stewardship at hundreds of DoD installations throughout the United States and around the world, working diligently to meet resource efficiency and sustainability goals as set by relevant laws and executive orders. Although the United States has significant capacity to adapt to climate change, it will pose challenges for civil society and DoD alike, particularly in light of the nation’s extensive coastal infrastructure. In 2008, the National Intelligence Council judged that more than 30 U.S. military installations were already facing elevated levels of risk from rising sea levels. DoD’s operational readiness hinges on continued access to land, air, and sea training and test space. Consequently, the Department must complete a comprehensive assessment of all installations to assess the potential impacts of climate change on its missions and adapt as required.

In this regard, DoD will work to foster efforts to assess, adapt to, and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Domestically, the Department will leverage the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program, a joint effort among DoD, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency, to develop climate change assessment tools. Abroad, the Department will increase its investment in the Defense Environmental International Cooperation Program not only to promote cooperation on environmental security issues, but also to augment international adaptation efforts. The Department will also speed innovative energy and conservation technologies from laboratories to military end users. The Environmental Security and Technology Certification Program uses military installations as a test bed to demonstrate and create a market for innovative energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies coming out of the private sector and DoD and Department of Energy laboratories.

Finally, the Department is improving small-scale energy efficiency and renewable energy projects at military installations through our Energy Conservation Investment Program.

The effect of changing climate on the Department’s operating environment is evident in the maritime commons of the Arctic. The opening of the Arctic waters in the decades ahead which will permit seasonal commerce and transit presents a unique opportunity to work collaboratively in multilateral forums to promote a balanced approach to improving human and environmental security in the region. In that effort, DoD must work with the Coast Guard and the Department of Homeland Security to address gaps in Arctic communications, domain awareness, search and rescue, and environmental observation and forecasting capabilities to support both current and future planning and operations. To support cooperative engagement in the Arctic, DoD strongly supports accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

As climate science advances, the Department will regularly reevaluate climate change risks and opportunities in order to develop policies and plans to manage its effects on the Department’s operating environment, missions, and facilities. Managing the national security effects of climate change will require DoD to work collaboratively, through a whole-of-government approach, with both traditional allies and new partners.

Energy security for the Department means having assured access to reliable supplies of energy and the ability to protect and deliver sufficient energy to meet operational needs. Energy efficiency can serve as a force multiplier, because it increases the range and endurance of forces in the field and can reduce the number of combat forces diverted to protect energy supply lines, which are vulnerable to both asymmetric and conventional attacks and disruptions. DoD must incorporate geostrategic and operational energy considerations into force planning, requirements development, and acquisition processes. To address these challenges, DoD will fully implement the statutory requirement for the energy efficiency Key Performance Parameter and fully burdened cost of fuel set forth in the 2009 National Defense Authorization Act. The Department will also investigate alternative concepts for improving operational energy use, including the creation of an innovation fund administered by the new Director of Operational Energy to enable components to compete for funding on projects that advance integrated energy solutions.

The Department is increasing its use of renewable energy supplies and reducing energy demand to improve operational effectiveness, reduce greenhouse gas emissions in support of U.S. climate change initiatives, and protect the Department from energy price fluctuations. The Military Departments have invested in noncarbon power sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy at domestic installations and in vehicles powered by alternative fuels, including hybrid power, electricity, hydrogen, and compressed national gas. Solving military challenges—through such innovations as more efficient generators, better batteries, lighter materials, and tactically deployed energy sources—has the potential to yield spin-off technologies that benefit the civilian community as well. DoD will partner with academia, other U.S. agencies, and international partners to research, develop, test, and evaluate new sustainable energy technologies.

Indeed, the following examples demonstrate the broad range of Service energy innovations. By 2016, the Air Force will be postured to cost-competitively acquire 50 percent of its domestic aviation fuel via an alternative fuel blend that is greener than conventional petroleum fuel. Further, Air Force testing and standard-setting in this arena paves the way for the much larger commercial aviation sector to follow. The Army is in the midst of a significant transformation of its fleet of 70,000 non-tactical vehicles (NTVs), including the current deployment of more than 500 hybrids and the acquisition of 4,000 low-speed electric vehicles at domestic installations to help cut fossil fuel usage. The Army is also exploring ways to exploit the opportunities for renewable power generation to support operational needs: for instance, the Rucksack Enhanced Portable Power System (REPPS). The Navy commissioned the USS Makin Island, its first electric-drive surface combatant, and tested an F/A-18 engine on camelina-based biofuel in 2009—two key steps toward the vision of deploying a “green” carrier strike group using biofuel and nuclear power by 2016. The Marine Corps has created an Expeditionary Energy Office to address operational energy risk, and its Energy Assessment Team has identified ways to achieve efficiencies in today’s highly energy-intensive operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in order to reduce logistics and related force protection requirements.

To address energy security while simultaneously enhancing mission assurance at domestic facilities, the Department is focusing on making them more resilient. U.S. forces at home and abroad rely on support from installations in the United States. DoD will conduct a coordinated energy assessment, prioritize critical assets, and promote investments in energy efficiency to ensure that critical installations are adequately prepared for prolonged outages caused by natural disasters, accidents, or attacks. At the same time, the Department will also take steps to balance energy production and transmission with the requirement to preserve the test and training ranges and the operating areas that are needed to maintain readiness.

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Senate Climate Change Fight Looks as Tough as Healthcare Reform Bill

Posted on December 31, 2009. Filed under: cap-and-trade | Tags: , , |

Senate Climate Change Fight Looks as Tough as Healthcare Reform Bill
By Ben Geman
The Hill
December 29, 2009

Senate Democrats will face a problem when they return in January every bit as tough as crafting the healthcare bill: Assembling a climate and energy package that can be shoehorned into the election-year calendar.

Imposing limits on greenhouse gases is a White House and Democratic priority, but it’s stuck in line behind healthcare, Wall Street reform and jobs legislation.

It’s also become increasingly apparent since the Copenhagen climate summit that the Senate will go forward in a dramatically different direction than the House, which approved its own climate bill last summer.

Environmentalists familiar with Democratic plans say party leaders remain committed to bringing up a bill next year. They are looking to Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) effort to craft a compromise plan with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

But in a sign of how difficult it will be to cobble together 60 votes, Kerry and Graham have provided few details about what their plan will contain.

They hope to blend emissions limits with wider offshore oil-and-gas drilling, expanded federal financing for nuclear power and a lot of support for low-emissions coal projects, among other measures aimed a navigating a thicket of regional and partisan interests.

Graham noted that different senators are proposing a variety of plans for limiting carbon emissions, and he said he’s open-minded to what is included in a bill, as long as it is a “meaningful control” on pollution.

Some Democratic centrists including Sens. Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) and Byron Dorgan (N.D.), who are both up for reelection next year, want the Senate to take up a broad energy measure that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved in June as a standalone bill, rather than grafting it to a cap-and-trade plan.

That’s led to speculation that Democrats might seek to move an energy bill but put off the fight over climate change.

The problem with that logic is that dozens of Democrats want to move a climate change bill, including centrists such as Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who faces a tough primary fight and then a difficult general election battle.

“I think it [climate legislation] is important. I think we ought to take it up,” Specter said in a brief interview last week. He’s also said any final bill must protect manufacturers and provide a major boost for low-emissions coal.

White House officials also are calling for a combined energy and climate package, including an economy-wide cap-and-trade plan.

White House climate czar Carol Browner in November warned against “slicing and dicing,” and a White House aide said Monday that a combined energy policy and cap-and-trade package remains what the White House wants from Congress in 2010.

Linda Stuntz, an electricity industry lawyer who was an Energy Department official under President George H.W. Bush, believes the Senate will bring up a combined climate and energy bill, though she said it will face rough sledding.

“I am in the camp of those who think it is going to be very difficult after the really bruising fight over heathcare,” she said.

Stuntz does not see room in the Senate for a bill that mirrors the House plan. 

“I don’t see an economy-wide cap-and-trade bill happening in 2010,” she said, adding that a narrower emissions plan, perhaps covering only power plants, could be more viable.

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) said she has been discussing the shape of an energy and climate package with lawmakers including Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Graham.

“It is not off the radar screen,” Landrieu said Wednesday. “There have been quite a few informal meetings that have been going on through the fog of this healthcare bill.”

Reid hopes to bring legislation to the floor in the spring, but that will be difficult given the Senate’s schedule.

A former official in the Clinton White House familiar with the climate change efforts said key negotiations need to start next month on the difficult task of assembling a compromise bill.

“At some point before the end of January several new moderates from both parties have to be brought into the process if we are going to create a bill that can gain 60 votes in the Senate. What it will take to bring those votes into the process is unclear, but those conversations have got to start to happen in mid- to late January,” the former official said.

An aide to Kerry said he was not planning to conduct negotiations on the climate measure over the Senate’s holiday recess.

The sour economy could also complicate plans to impose mandatory emissions limits amid assertions by GOP leaders and many in the Republican caucus that such plans would stifle growth.

But Kevin Book, an analyst with the consulting firm ClearView Energy Partners, argues the reverse is true.

He said that with states hurting financially, the billions of dollars that House and Senate cap-and-trade plans would provide to states through emissions allowances will help boost the chances for legislation that greatly expands federal environmental regulation.

“A weak economy is the only time you can have this incursion into the state regulatory franchise,” he said.

And, he notes, supporters of climate legislation have another card to play: The Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to move ahead with emissions regulations if Congress does not act.

“It is going to be very hard for Democrats to come up with nothing,” he said. “The only really politically viable option for them, thanks to the White House choice to move ahead [with EPA regulations], is to pass something.”

Nonetheless, energy lobbyists are hedging their bets, looking to the jobs bill as well as the hoped-for comprehensive energy-climate package for their preferred provisions. On Monday, the American Wind Energy Association released a list of 10 trends to watch, including the fate of the renewable electricity standard (RES) that requires utilities to supply more renewable power, which the group has been seeking for years.

“Whether it is in job legislation or in comprehensive energy and climate legislation … a strong RES is urgently needed to create hard targets that will fortify our manufacturing base and create tens of thousands of jobs,” the group said.

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Soros urges IMF to create $100bn ‘green’ fund

Posted on December 11, 2009. Filed under: Advanced Biofuel | Tags: , , , , , |

Soros urges IMF to create $100bn ‘green’ fund

By Fiona Harvey in Copenhagen

The Financial Times

December 10, 2009

George Soros, the billionaire financier, unveiled a plan on Thursday to give poor countries access to $100bn in financial assistance to deal with the threat of climate change.

The money would come from the International Monetary Fund, from financial instruments known as special drawing rights, or SDRs.

These instruments are used to create liquidity. The IMF has distributed hundreds of billions of dollars worth of SDRs to its members, which lie in the reserve accounts of the countries concerned.

Speaking at the United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen, Mr Soros argued that these reserves are unnecessary, and that the SDRs could be lent to developing countries, through a “green fund” set up for the purpose.

“It is possible to substantially increase the amount available to fight global warming in the developing world by using the existing allocations of SDRs,” he said. “All that is lacking is the political will… Yet it could make the difference between success and failure at Copenhagen.”

Listen to Fiona Harvey’s audio dispatch on the latest discussions at Copenhagen

The talks in Copenhagen have become stalled on the question of financing. Poor countries are demanding $100bn a year by 2020 from rich countries, in order to deal with climate change, and $10bn a year for the next three years to tide them over before the long-term funding begins.

Rich countries have come up with some financing commitments, but they do not come near the scale of funding being asked for.

Mr Soros’s green fund would finance projects that reduced emissions in developing countries, such as forestry and agricultural projects.

In Mr Soros’ vision, the fund would become self-financing as the projects would turn a profit.

SDRs can be used only by converting them into one of four currencies, at which point they carry interest at the combined treasury bill rate of those currencies.

At present, the rate of such interest is about 0.5 per cent.

Mr Soros suggests that the IMF should also pay the interest on the SDRs, by using its gold reserves.

The IMF has more than 100m ounces of gold. Owing to the rise in bullion prices, this gold is now worth about $100bn more than its book value, Mr Soros estimates.

He said this money, which has already been designated for the use of the poorest countries, could best be spent in this way.

But Mr Soros explicitly ruled out China benefitting from the new green fund he proposes. China has called for funding from developed countries to help cut its emissions, but the US on Wednesday rebuffed the idea in strong terms.

Mr Soros appeared to lean towards the US point of view: “I see China more as a contributor than a recipient. This would be for the poorest countries. Fortunately China is no longer [one].”

There are several obstacles to Mr Soros’ plan, however, One is that for the US to participate it would require Congressional approval, which will be hard to achieve.

Other developed countries gave a lukewarm response to the plan. Artur Runge-Metzger, the chief negotiator for the European Union, said: “Sometimes these very interesting proposals sound like perpetual movement – how you can create money and dish it out very quickly.”

He added: “There is no way we can just print money to makes sure finance is on the table.”

But the plan was welcomed by the G77 of developing countries.

Mr Soros’ ideas are unlikely to be decided upon at the Copenhagen conference, but they could receive more attention in the coming months as rich countries struggle to work out in detail how they can finance any pledges they make in the coming days.

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    Renergie created “field-to-pump," a unique strategy to locally produce and market advanced biofuel (“non-corn fuel ethanol”) via a network of small advanced biofuel manufacturing facilities. The purpose of “field-to-pump” is to maximize rural development and job creation while minimizing feedstock supply risk and the burden on local water supplies.

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