America remains the world’s most powerful nation because our singular commitment to innovation has never wavered. The U.S. military is bringing that commitment to the front lines. The Department of Defense is developing and implementing new technologies that minimize the military’s carbon “bootprint,” diversify its energy sources and reduce its demand for fossil fuels. The Air Force and Army are increasing the fuel efficiency of their thousands of combat, transport and support vehicles. The Navy is investing in advanced biofuels so it can power its ships and aircraft with fuels created and refined in America, instead of ones shipped from abroad. And Marines in Afghanistan are using compact solar technologies and developing enhanced energy storage solutions to reduce the number of fuel convoys supplying their combat outposts.
Congress — both Democrats and Republicans — and every climate advocate in America should follow the military’s lead in focusing on energy innovation. We have an opportunity to maintain our global leadership, fortify our economy and address our contribution to climate change through clean energy development. Advanced energy accounted for more than $1 trillion in revenue worldwide in 2012. But, while clean energy investment has soared in Western Europe and Asia, political partisanship has impeded our ability to tap into renewable resources here at home. As President Barack Obama said in his second inaugural address, “we cannot cede to other countries the technology that will power new jobs and new industry — we must claim its promise.”
Seizing the opportunity to strengthen our national and economic security will require serious, rational and urgent discussion. Obama brought climate change back into the national spotlight in his inaugural address and State of the Union. Now it’s time for Congress to work with the president to get the job done. Together with one voice, we must ensure that our future security and prosperity transcend the politics of the moment. Our military leaders understand how to put differences aside to get the job done. Our leaders in Washington must meet the standard they set.
Col. Dan Nolan, retired from the U.S. Army, is the author of the DOD Energy Blog and a spokesman for the clean energy campaign, Operation Free.