By John Conger
On March 16, 2022, the Readiness Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing to discuss matters dealing with energy, installations, and environment at the Department of Defense. The witnesses were Paul Cramer, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense (Energy, Installations and Environment); Paul Farnan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Installations, Energy and Environment); Meredith Berger, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment); and Ed Oshiba, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Energy, Installations, and Environment).
While the subject of the hearing was broader than climate security, climate change policies played a central role in the discussion. Highlights included:
- Considerable discussion of the Department of Defense’s climate plans, and Chairman John Garamendi (D-CA) praised Mr. Farnan for the Army Climate Strategy. Ms. Berger and Mr. Oshiba promised they would soon release the Navy Climate Strategy and the Air Force Climate Action Plan respectively. Witnesses stated their climate concerns were focused on mission readiness and the implications to the armed services.
- Both Chairman Garamendi and Ranking Member Michael Waltz (R-FL) invoked the requirement from the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that required each military installation to develop a resilience plan and integrate it into each “Installation Master Plan.” DoD has still not completed these plans.
- Contested logistics was a bipartisan theme. The vulnerability of supply lines and the dependence on fuel remains a concern of the committee, and it was clear members would support increasing vehicle and aircraft efficiency to reduce the need for resupply. Both Rep. Waltz and Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA) expressed concern about the Army’s vision of battlefield electric vehicles and the need for a forward deployed power source, though Chairman Garamendi pointed out we already have the same concerns about forward deployed fuel storage.
- Ranking Member Waltz advocated prioritizing microgrids in Europe because of the dependence on Russian energy, and also expressed concern about supply chain dependencies on Russia and China for minerals required for batteries and solar panels.
- Mr. Cramer’s statement highlighted several key climate-related investments that DoD is pursuing for both resilience and efficiencies, such as the Defense Communities Infrastructure Program, the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program, the Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program, and energy research and development. While he was referring to existing funds, these are worth watching for increased emphasis in the soon-to-be-released budget request for Fiscal Year 2023.
The hearing covered a range of other significant issues, including deferred maintenance of DoD facilities, military housing, environmental contamination with a particular focus on Red Hill in Hawaii, and cyber vulnerability, but the greatest focus was on climate and resilience. It is fair to assume there will be significant attention to this issue as the committee develops the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
You can watch the full video below.