By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
As the world waits for the pope’s climate change encyclical, new attention has been focused on how the Obama administration’s green energy policies are undermining U.S. military readiness and diverting resources from caring for America’s veterans.
We reported recently that the Obama administration didn’t have time to develop a strategy to fight against global Islamic terrorism because it was too busy putting homosexuals into the Armed Forces and celebrating gay pride. In fact, there was something else on the agenda that Obama had ordered the military to handle that had assumed more importance than global terrorism—climate change.
On May 20, in his remarks to the United States Coast Guard Academy commencement, Obama actually told the Coast Guard grads that “It is a dereliction of duty” for them to ignore this alleged problem.
The speech got enormous favorable attention from our media. “Obama Recasts Climate Change as a Peril With Far-Reaching Effects,” was The New York Times headline over a story covering the speech. CNN reported, “In Coast Guard commencement address, Obama buoys climate change.”
Obama even went so far as to imply that climate change was behind terrorism. He said, “…climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world. Yet what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram.”
The bizarre claim that Islamist terrorists kill Christians because of climate change has been echoed by the British Guardian and Mother Jones, both of them far-left outlets.
The other side of the story was provided by two excellent speakers at the recent 10th International Conference on Climate Change in Washington, D.C. Jay Lehr, Ph.D., who is the science director at The Heartland Institute, said the U.S. Navy is being transformed into a “Green Navy” that will cost $1.9 billion in alternative fuels alone. The same money, he said, could buy a new aircraft carrier.
“The money that we are spending in this manner is going to reduce our weaponry and reduce our ability to protect our fighting men and women, and it is entirely disgraceful,” Lehr said.
James M. Taylor, vice president for external relations and senior fellow for environment and energy policy at The Heartland Institute, discussed his group’s publication of the report, “Climate Change, Energy Policy, and National Power.” It was written by three retired military officials who argue that the Obama administration’s so-called National Security Strategy pays lip service to a balanced energy strategy, while in reality it is actually “defaulting on its responsibility to develop and execute a credible national energy policy.”
In his own talk, Taylor discussed in detail how the costly energy schemes being imposed on the U.S. military impede military readiness and waste resources, even at the expense of veterans in need of health care.
Dominance in the world, he said, requires the projection of military power, which rests on a strong and growing economy. But Obama’s plan for less reliance on fossil fuels and the increased usage of so-called renewable sources such as solar and wind power can only weaken the U.S. economy, he said. He noted that Russia is already moving into the Arctic area, with no credible U.S. military response.
What’s more, Taylor noted, Obama has ordered the Defense Department to rely increasingly—as much as 25 percent of its energy—on “grossly expensive” solar and wind power that detracts from military preparedness. “This is coming out of the defense budget,” he said. “It’s a budgetary boondoggle that takes away from money that could be spent on men, machinery and weaponry, and instead is being spent on more expensive power.”
He cited a machine made for the military that is supposed to be dragged around on a battlefield and transforms trash into electricity, rather than being buried or burned. The contraption was highlighted by the Mother Nature Network news service as one of the “6 green things the U.S. military is doing.”
Citing another boondoggle, he said the Navy is paying an incredibly high price of $67.50 per gallon for a “camelina-based fuel” made from a plant in the mustard family.
Even more shocking, he cited a case of money from the Department of Veterans Affairs intended for military care that is instead being used to purchase solar panels. “That’s coming at the expense of folks who are not getting the care they should be getting,” he said.
Indeed, the VA announced in 2011 that it had awarded $56.7 million in contracts to build solar panels.
However, it was reported in Arkansas in April of this year by local television station KATV that a section of solar panels at the Little Rock Veteran’s Affairs Hospital was being torn down after being built only two years ago and never turned on. The panels had cost $8 million.
The VA Secretary at the time, Eric Shinseki, said that “in order to continue providing Veterans with the best health care and benefit services, VA must adapt to climate change.”
Shinseki’s green campaign included installing a wind turbine at the Massachusetts National Cemetery. The turbine cost $533,000 and was funded under Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The VA issued a news release about this development, saying, “Under the leadership of Secretary Eric K. Shinseki, who flipped the switch at today’s wind turbine dedication, VA is transitioning into a 21st century organization that better serves America’s Veterans.”
The VA scandal over poor or non-existent care for veterans forced Shinseki’s resignation more than a year ago.
But he has bounced back, recently joining the board of First Hawaiian Bank. Bob Harrison, First Hawaiian Bank chairman, president and chief executive officer, said, “He is a man of great integrity and character who has dedicated his entire career to serving our nation.”