October 17, 2012

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today discussed the importance of energy independence and how it enhances our economy, national security and combat effectiveness during today’s 4th annual Naval Energy Forum. Shaheen, a member of both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, joined Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and other key representatives from the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as industry and international community officials.

This year's theme, The Art of the Long View, highlighted the importance of using energy in a judicious manner to enhance combat capability today and ensure availability of resources for future generations.  Earlier this year, Shaheen convened an Energy Subcommittee hearing aboard the U.S.S. Kearsarge in Norfolk to highlight the Navy and Marine Corps’ leadership on energy innovation. 

“She has been a leading proponent of taking care of our military in all forms...from taking care of those who serve and their families…to being a leading and eloquent and forceful voice on changing the military’s energy,” Mabus said today when he introduced Shaheen. “She is truly, I believe, one of the great national figures and a powerful national voice on energy and on everything else that concerns the health and the future of our military.”

Shaheen’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Thank you, Secretary Mabus, for that kind introduction, and thank you to everyone here for your participation in the 2012 Naval Energy Forum. I understand this is the fourth year for the Forum. 

I want to welcome all of the Sailors and Marines here today and commend you for your continuing service to our nation.  I also want to recognize all of the Navy and U.S. Marine Corps commands, as well as the Forum sponsors who are responsible for this important and timely event.    

Energy security requires an all-of-government approach. It is important to have venues like this Forum where military, industry, academia and policy representatives can exchange ideas and share successful strategies for tackling this difficult challenge.  I am pleased to have the chance to speak today and look forward to working with all of you in the years ahead.     

I want to begin by recognizing Secretary Mabus for his leadership on energy security issues. 

We are already marking the third anniversary of the establishment of the Secretary’s five ambitious energy goals for the Navy.  This agenda will help the Navy reduce dependence on foreign oil by increasing alternative energy use and reducing demand.  It will also enhance our strategic flexibility to combat security threats around the world.

As today’s theme, “The Art of the Long View” indicates, energy security is a long-term challenge.  But the decisions we make today will prepare our Navy for what happens tomorrow.  Secretary Mabus and his entire team deserve a lot of credit for their foresight and vision in putting the Navy on the right course.

I am here today as a Member of both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  From these positions, I have seen firsthand the impressive progress the Navy is making on energy security.

In fact, this spring, I convened an Energy Subcommittee hearing aboard the U.S.S. Kearsarge down in Norfolk to highlight the Navy and Marine Corps’ leadership on energy innovation.  According to the Senate historian, this was the first Senate hearing on board a U.S. Navy ship since 1960.  We were pleased to welcome Secretary Mabus as the lead witness.  We were also joined by Senator John Warner, a former Secretary of the Navy himself, as well as Vice Admiral Cullum and Colonel Charette, both of whom I believe are participants in today’s events.

Now, as you may expect, there are a lot of frustrating things about the Senate.   However, one of the things I have been encouraged by on the Armed Services Committee is the genuine commitment of members on both sides of the aisle to support our military and to ensure that it is equipped and prepared to meet any challenge.

Our Chairman and Ranking Member, Senators Carl Levin and John McCain, remind us often that the annual National Defense Authorization Act,  has been passed for the last 51 years in a row.  This is a unique accomplishment in the U.S. Congress.  

I  believe there are two reasons for that success.  First is the men and women of our Armed Forces. Your willingness to step forward and the professionalism and dedication you bring to your job everyday sets a powerful example of selflessness and service.  In the Senate, we take very seriously our responsibility to provide you with the tools needed to accomplish your mission and come home safely.

Second, there is a genuine desire to do what is best for our nation and our security.  That doesn’t mean we always agree, but we are generally all working in the same direction when it comes to the security of the American people.

I raise this because we in the Senate and Congress need your help.  To ensure future support for these critical missions, we need our military and political leadership to continue demonstrating how important new energy technologies are to our national  security.  All of you here understand that energy has always been directly related to our economy, our national security and our combat effectiveness. 

Energy security is not some sort of feel-good, “pie in the sky” goal that would be nice to have.  Energy security is imperative to the success of today’s military, and it becomes more critical with each passing generation.   

Let’s be clear:  Energy security is national security.  Our military leadership understands this.  Our Sailors and Marines understand this.  Other countries – including some of our strongest competitors – also understand this.  And we ignore this fact at our own peril. 

Today, on average a single service member requires approximately 22 gallons of fuel per day, an increase of 175% since the Vietnam War.  Operations in Afghanistan alone require 20 million to 50 million gallons of fuel per month.

Oil remains the lifeblood of our military. We could not defend ourselves without it.  And access to it is not guaranteed.  The Arab Spring, Iranian threats to mine the Strait of Hormuz, and China’s encroachment on shipping lanes in the South China Sea all illustrate the possibility of major disruptions in our oil supply and the security risks in maintaining access to foreign oil.  Our Navy knows this better than anyone, particularly those that have patrolled the Persian Gulf or the Straits of Malacca.

The Department of Defense, and the Navy in particular, has long been on the cutting edge of energy innovation.  The Navy’s record of taking advanced scientific concepts and implementing them on the battlefield is well established.   From wind to coal to oil to nuclear, our military’s ability to harness new forms of energy has allowed us to project power around the world.

That tradition continues today in Afghanistan.  Earlier this year using rechargeable batteries and portable solar grids, a Marine unit in Afghanistan conducted a three week foot patrol without resupplying its batteries – saving roughly 700 pounds of battery weight over the course of their mission.

Colonel Bob Charette put it well during our hearing aboard the Kearsarge.  He said that Marines aren’t exactly known as ardent tree-hugging environmentalists.   However, once he and his Marines realized that saving energy saved time, allowed them to carry less weight, and ultimately, led to fewer lives being risked on dangerous fuel convoys, they were all in on this energy effort.  Energy security increases combat effectiveness and it can save lives in the field.  

We are beginning to see dramatic progress on energy security in a wide variety of areas.  Energy considerations are now a factor during the acquisition process.  Energy efficiency has become a new focus both ashore and afloat.  Naval Base San Diego is now providing its ships with monthly energy reports, similar to a utility bill, to help instill a culture of water and energy savings.  Smart Voyage Planning Decision Aids are optimizing shipping routes to maximize fuel efficiency.  Energy Dashboards, Stern flaps, and solid state lighting are improving energy performance across the board.  I saw some of these improvements aboard the Kearsarge.

And, forgive me for sounding parochial, but we also need to give credit to installations like the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, where Navy investments including LEED certified buildings, combined heat and power and solar thermal systems, as well as Energy Savings Performance Contracts have allowed Portsmouth to significantly reduce energy consumption and save money.  In fact, these energy savings are more than paying for the initial investments made in the projects.  Their efforts earned the Secretary’s Energy and Water Management award in 2011.   

We need to make sure our military leaders are able to continue their historic tradition of identifying long-term challenges and seeking innovative ways to solve them.  Energy use is no different and nothing – including the Congress – should get in the way.  We can’t allow the debate over the military’s energy use become a proxy for other ideological debates around energy.  We should let our military do what it does best.  We should let them lead. 

Now, as many of you know, one of the more controversial issues that has arisen this year is the Navy’s use of advanced biofuels.  

Despite the obvious benefits of a home-grown, stable source of fuel for our Navy, we have heard two major criticisms.  First, critics argue that this effort should not be a function of the Department of Defense.  However, DOD is already working closely with the Departments of Energy and Agriculture  to share the burden of advanced biofuel development.  In fact, It is set to contribute half the funding to establish a biofuels production facility.

As I said earlier, energy security will no doubt take an all-of-government approach; however, as the single largest fuel consumer in the world today (and by far the largest in the U.S. government), the Department of Defense has a special role to play in this effort.  

Second, critics say that the cost of biofuels can’t compete with oil.

Biofuels do cost more…for now, but  that price continues to fall dramatically.  In addition, as many of you know, there are significant costs – unseen at the gas pump – associated with protecting our shipping lanes and oil supplies.  For over 60 years, we have been patrolling the Persian Gulf.  These are oil costs that remain underappreciated.

Moreover, the volatility of oil prices is hurting our military.  For every $1 change in the price of a barrel of oil, $130 million is added to the DoD budget.  For the Navy alone, that means $30 million in additional costs. 

To meet these difficult challenges, we in Congress, should provide you with the  support you need to get the job done.  I know some may question the ability of Congress to come together on energy security; however, the good news is that we’ve done it before.

In 2007, with the help of former Senator John Warner, Congress passed the Energy Security and Independence Act.  The bill took a number of important steps to secure our energy future, including raising national fuel economy standards and promoting the use of smart grid and renewable energy technologies.

The bipartisan package passed with overwhelming support and was signed into law by President George W. Bush.  As important as the bill itself, Congress’s ability to work together on this issue demonstrated the seriousness of the bipartisan commitment to energy security.

There are some signs that bipartisan cooperation can continue.  After the Senate’s debate on biofuels, Senator Collins (my Republican Colleague from Maine) and I published a joint op-ed pledging to work together to ensure that we do not tie the hands of our military leaders or hamper its ability to research and develop alternative energy technologies.

I am also pleased to report that just before the Senate recessed in September, my Republican colleague from Ohio, Senator Rob Portman, and I were able to pass portions of an energy bill we have been working on for almost two years to improve our nation’s energy efficiency. 

The Shaheen-Portman legislation creates a national strategy to increase the use of energy efficiency technologies in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors of our economy.  The bill also puts the federal government, the single biggest user of energy in the country, on track to save taxpayer dollars by requiring agencies to implement proven energy savings techniques.  According to ACEEE, the legislation would save consumers $4 billion and create 80,000 jobs by 2020. 

The bill cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last July with a strong 18-3 bipartisan vote, and Senator Portman and I remain committed to passing the remaining sections of our bill, hopefully, during the lame duck session of Congress.

Obviously one of the biggest challenges Congress faces when it returns in November is to address sequestration and put in place a long-term deficit and debt reduction plan. It won’t be easy but if we put aside our partisan differences and work together in the best interest of the country, we can accomplish this task.

There is no doubt that significant challenges remain to get us to where we need to be on energy security.  That said, I am optimistic.  Our military from top to bottom understands what is at stake, and once the United States military has set its sights on something--its track record is pretty darn good.  Besides, anytime the Services find something new to compete with each other on, we tend to see some impressive results.

We need to make sure that our nation’s civilian leaders and the public understand the importance of these programs and their successes.  Energy efficiency and alternative energy are about saving lives and improving combat effectiveness.  It’s as simple as that. 

You all are making excellent progress, but our task is not done. I look forward to continuing to work with you in the years ahead.

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