May 26, 2022

Duckworth, Casten, Crow Introduce Bill to Support Defense Department’s Clean Energy Goals, Helping Keep Our Troops Safe


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — Combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chair of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Airland, today introduced legislation that would help protect our troops abroad by transitioning the Department of Defense away from fossil fuels, the transportation of which in combat zones contributes to a significant number of U.S. casualties, and towards clean energy. The Depend on Domestic Clean Energy Act will provide the Department of Defense with the authority and flexibility to reach its energy resilience goals by helping diversify its energy sources with cheaper and more reliable ones. This legislation will help address climate change, which military leaders have stated is a national security risk. U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) is a cosponsor of this bill in the Senate and, in the House of Representatives, Congressman Sean Casten (D-IL-06) and combat Veteran and Army Ranger Congressman Jason Crow (D-CO-06) are leading the companion legislation.

“We know that climate change is real and it’s threatening our military readiness, the safety of our men and women in uniform and our national security,” said Duckworth. “While the military has started working to address this, we need to provide them with the resources to further act to curb the impacts of climate change before it’s too late, like pivoting further away from fossil fuels and investing instead in clean energy. That’s why I’m introducing the Depend on Domestic (DOD) Clean Energy Act to support DoD’s energy resilience efforts by giving it the tools it needs to diversify its energy sources and reduce its fuel needs.”

“I came to Congress to combat climate change before it’s too late,” said Casten. “The Department of Defense acknowledges that climate crisis is a massive and rapidly accelerating threat to our national security, yet the DOD makes up 77% of the federal government’s energy footprint. If we continue to give the Pentagon a pass on their greenhouse gas emissions, taxpayers will be forced to subsidize the greatest risk to global security. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuel energy and adapting to an evolving security environment is essential to keeping Americans safe, preventing wars, and maintaining our leadership on the international stage.”

“The climate crisis impacts every facet of our lives – including our national security and the readiness of our military,” said Crow. “As we look to decrease US emissions, we have to look at the Department of Defense, which is the number one institutional consumer of fossil fuels in the world. Giving DOD the flexibility and resources to diversify its energy sources with the Depend on Domestic Clean Energy Act is a big step in the right direction for our climate goals and for our troop readiness.”

The Department of Defense (DoD) is the number one institutional consumer of fossil fuels in the world and much of these fuels are globally sourced from unfriendly nations. This reliance on fossil fuels is a strategic and operational vulnerability for U.S. forces and can have negative impacts on our military readiness. It also directly contributes to climate change, which is forcing DoD to invest in new infrastructure and to reallocate global force posture to deal with changing environmental conditions and respond to natural disasters. Pivoting to clean energy could help keep our troops safe by reduce the number of refueling stops and improving military readiness at bases and with equipment.

Specifically, this legislation would:

  • Strengthen DoD’s Sustainability Targets: Strengthens targets for DoD on alternatively fueled vehicle acquisitions, installation energy infrastructure diversification and infrastructure emissions. These targets will increase DoD’s energy independence while reducing costs.
  • Enhance ERCIP Fund Usage: Provides additional flexibility and authorities for DoD to use Environmental Resilience and Conservation Investment Program (ERCIP) funds to upgrade installation energy management systems with diverse utilities. It will also ensure DoD has the flexibility to use any unobligated ERCIP funds beyond the end of the fiscal year.
  • Strengthen DoD’s Energy Resilience Workforce: Gives DoD direct hire authority to recruit the talent it needs to modernize DoD energy sources and infrastructure and work towards its climate goals.
  • Streamline DoD’s Energy Resilience Efforts: Requires a strategic portfolio review of all DoD investment in alternatively fueled vehicles by the Office of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation and a report to Congress on possible efficiencies and opportunities. It also requires DoD to contract a study on Scope 3 Emissions from DoD contracted activities.
  • Enhance DoD’s Ability to Operate in Contested Logistics Environment: Authorizes additional funding for the Sustainable Technology Evaluation Demonstration program, the Defense Innovation Unit and the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program to continue adoption of commercially available sustainable solutions to reduce DoD’s operational fuel requirements and support environmental stewardship.

Bill text can be found here.

Duckworth has often spoken about the importance of viewing climate change as an issue of national security. In 2020, she led a hearing of the Senate Democrats’ Special Committee on the Climate Crisis—which is chaired by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and is affiliated with the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee—on understanding and addressing the national security risks of climate change. During a speech in 2019, she outlined her vison for how we can keep our military the strongest in the world – arguing that if we want to remain atop the global order, we need to recognize that investing in green energy bolsters our national security and better serves our military.

Duckworth was one of the first handful of Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring from military service in 2014 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. She served on the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) during her four years serving in the U.S. House of Representatives.