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California and the U.S. Military: A Powerful Partnership for Clean Energy

Nicole Lederer's picture
Environmental Entrepreneurs
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  • Oct 16, 2012
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Recently, California took a bold step into the future when Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Energy Security Coordination Act. This aligns California with the Department of Defense in our shared pursuit of clean energy. Passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the state legislature, this is a winning proposition for Californians, who stand to benefit from enhanced national security as well as from the economic growth that clean energy development brings to our state.

The U.S. military is one of world’s largest consumers of energy. With fuel-intensive deployments across the globe, and enormous energy needs to operate military installations here at home, the Defense Department has identified fossil fuel dependency as a strategic liability and energy efficiency as a national security requirement. Military leaders from every service branch are now focused on untethering our fighting forces from fossil fuels and lowering their energy demands

The Energy Security Coordination Act sends a clear message to these military leaders: the state of California is ready to support you with new energy technologies. Thanks to California’s global warming law, we are already leading the world in clean energy innovation. And our Low Carbon Fuel Standard makes California a leader for the development of alternative sources of energy – fuels that can be generated here at home, or on our military bases around the world, providing essential refueling flexibility to our armed forces.

The new law adds to this strong foundation and provides a huge boost for California’s innovation economy. Authored by State Sen. Fran Pavley, the law encourages collaboration between California and the military; acknowledges the military’s role as a massive consumer of California energy products; supports the commercialization of clean energy; and formalizes the state government’s role in fostering the growth of the clean energy industry.

 This is the kind of policy that draws clean energy companies to our state, and it’s a reason why the Defense Department comes to California to shop.

 California boasts the largest clean energy economy in the nation. The sector has created 318,000 jobs and growing. In 2011, California saw $3.72 billion in private investment in clean-tech, about seven times more than Massachusetts, which ranked second.

 And as the new law points out, there remains a huge potential to provide products and services that will help the Defense Department meet its aggressive clean energy goals. Lots of growing, cutting-edge businesses stand to benefit, including companies that specialize in renewable energy generation, energy storage, and alternative fuels.

 The Defense Department already has a large economic footprint in California. The U.S. military has 30 major installations in the state, with a budget of more than $56 billion and 236,000 uniformed and civilian personnel.

 The people who will benefit from this natural partnership span the globe – from American soldiers on foreign battlefields whose exposure to dangerous fuel-related operations will be reduced, to workers who land new, high-paying jobs at California facilities that are already producing solar power for the Army or biofuels for the Navy.

 Another winner is the environment. Military leaders understand the dangers of climate change, and the Defense Department has unequivocally determined that climate change is a “threat multiplier.” The military knows that climate change heightens geopolitical instability, increases resource conflicts, and causes humanitarian disasters around the globe – all of which stretch thin our armed forces’ capacity to effectively respond to international events.

 The Energy Security Coordination Act is a business-friendly response to one of the military’s most pressing strategic initiatives, and it should be a model for other states. With its foresight and political will, California has once again demonstrated that it is a global leader in clean energy and a strong partner to our troops.

 Nicole Lederer is co-founder of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), a national community of business leaders who promote sound environmental policy that builds economic prosperity.

 Image: Golden Gate Bridge via Shutterstock

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Simon Friedrich's picture
Simon Friedrich on Oct 22, 2012

The assumption that we can obtain low greenhouse emitting fuels (Low Carbon Fuel Standard) from biomass is mistaken. The greenhouse gas emissions from all liquid transportation fuels (including advanced biofuels) are approximately the same per unit of energy delivered. Displacing fossil fuels with biofuels on a global scale will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will adversely impact both land and water use, resulting in reduced resources for optimum atmospheric carbon sequestration by photosynthesis.    

 

 

Simon Friedrich's picture
Simon Friedrich on Oct 22, 2012

The assumption that we can obtain low greenhouse emitting fuels (Low Carbon Fuel Standard) from biomass is mistaken. The greenhouse gas emissions from all liquid transportation fuels (including advanced biofuels) are approximately the same per unit of energy delivered. Displacing fossil fuels with biofuels on a global scale will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will adversely impact both land and water use, resulting in reduced resources for optimum atmospheric carbon sequestration by photosynthesis.    

 
Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on Oct 22, 2012

Minnesota was once home to the "big iron" computer industry. Control Data, Cray Research, Honeywell-Bull, Sperry Univac Unisys and IBM facilities. I was in the lab of the inventor of digital electronics when large scale integrated circuits took off and silly microcomputers appeared. Then some crazy Californians invented Silicon Valley from grape leaves and defense funding. I remember the seminars, old Otto Schmitt pushing the opportunity and considered just old.

Today Minnesota is home to corn ethanol. We are again the epicenter preventing new ideas and opportunities. Since California only became possible by developing water and water based energy, maybe they will again expand agriculture and energy coproducts in new directions over vast new regions. The US was very lucky the West Coast was built so quickly in the 1930s. I've heard the naysayers here are now seeking out rain-making companies. The US desperately needs some capable energy innovation leadership.

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