Senate Democrats Boost Clean Energy Funding for Military

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Within a lower overall DOD budget for next year that comes in at $26 billion under White House request, holding the line at last year’s level of $513 billion, Senate Democrats have boosted funding for clean energy development within the military, according to Clean Energy Report.

Under earlier Democratic initiatives, a 300% increase in funding for innovative new energy sources now promises breakthroughs in new fuels, such Camelina for jet fuel, a weed grown in near drought and cold conditions in Northern Montana and Idaho, far from potential cropland it might displace. Tina Casey here lists many of these advances: U.S. Military Vaults into Clean Energy Future Despite Fossil Fuel Lobby

Noting the $13 billion the military spent on petroleum in in 2010, the Senate Appropriations Committee singles out alternative energy as an area for which it is boosting research funding, and noted promising research on renewable energy technologies that do not displace food production, “including deepwater offshore wind energy, and wood-to-jet fuel and waste-to-energy conversion, and encourages the Department to continue to support research on these innovative technologies.”

Like the government funding for NASA that has lead to spin off technology advances, funding the military to advance a clean energy innovation stream is a way around the Republican attempt to criminalize the clean energy economy which has escalated into the “Solyndra witch hunt” against any funding and incentives that help grow clean energy.

Republicans have evidenced an increasingly consistent voting pattern against the environment and clean energy for 20 years, with an increasingly strident refusal to accept the scientific consensus that climate change is a serious threat, warranting much, much higher levels of funding in a clean source of energy.

Now, increasingly, the military is providing a pivot point for government funding of clean energy innovation, and increasingly, understanding why it is needed.The Pentagon has called for climate change to be included in a new defense review.

Last week, Operation Free, a coalition of activists and veterans groups, solicited its supporters to call the House Armed Services Committee chairman to spare DOD clean energy programs from the looming budget cuts. Earlier this year, military leaders went to war against the “dirty fuel rule” that the House GOP was pushing on them, and military veterans have called for more investment in sustainable fuels.

“DOD has commitment,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Clean Energy Program “the culture, discipline and the management structure necessary to really foster technology innovation.”

Susan Kraemer @Twitter

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