Study: Clean Energy Is The Best National Defense

The San Joaquin Valley is home to Naval Air Station Lemoore, so anything military related is big news here. That should be even more reason to take notice of a study that makes some remarkable recommendations regarding energy, national security and what role the Department of Defense should play.

A military advisory board, in a recent report, says that the nation's dependence on fossil fuels leaves us "unacceptably vulnerable" to hostile nations, and is bad foreign policy. We've referenced the study previously, but dive deeper into it and you come up with some pretty startling stuff. Here's a sample:

"Economically, the nation's heavy oil dependence diverts hundreds of billions of dollars out of the economy ($386 billion transferred overseas in 2008 and $350 billion in 2009) and leaves American businesses and governmental agencies vulnerable to unpredictable price volatility...Declining supplies combined with increasing global demand will have severe impacts on the American economy and our ability to remain militarily strong."

At the same time, the report, compiled by some heavy hitters in the military, suggests that a green revolution, while difficult to create, would present great opportunities. The Department of Defense, because of its size, extensive experience in technological innovation and the considerable amount of energy it consumes ($20 billion of its budget goes toward energy and every $10 increase in the per-barrel price of oil costs the department an additional $1.3 billion), is uniquely positioned to lead the charge.

The advisers suggest combining research activities, intellectual capital and budgets of the Departments of defense and energy to create a world-leading clean-energy program, using defense installations as test sites.

Mix in resources from private business, universities (hello, University of California, Merced), and NASA, and you've got a pretty powerful brain trust. In fact, some joint efforts are occurring. Today, the California Energy Commission tentatively approved a grant to help develop biodiesel at a Navy base in Ventura County.

Of course, it won't be easy, and the United States is already falling behind. Spain, Germany, China and even Abu Dhabi, which possesses nearly 10% of the world's proven oil reserves, have launched significant clean-energy initiatives.

Abu Dhabi apparently wants to attract investors and entrepreneurs and become the Silicon Valley of renewable energy.

Why can't we as a nation and California as a state take that leadership role? This state already leads in computer technology, movie making and agriculture. Clean energy could be next.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.