ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson recently let the world know that global warming or not, his company will keep on doing business as usual (and is not going to sign onto letters like this one). However, one of the global petroleum industry’s single biggest customers is ready for a change of air. That would be the US Army, which has just issued a new energy security report outlining how and why it intends to wean itself from petroleum products.
The Army Energy Security and Sustainability Strategy
The US Army’s newly released “Energy Security and Sustainability Strategy” (ES2 Strategy) is full of money quotes. Here’s a representative pair that bookends the document and indicates the irrelevancy of Tillerson’s business model:
We can no longer assume unimpeded access to the energy, water, land, and other resources required to train, sustain, and deploy a globally responsive Army.
The goals and supporting actions presented in this strategy are mutually reinforcing and facilitate a holistic, cross-organizational approach towards goal achievement now and in the future…This ES 2 Strategy will make the Army ready and resilient while preserving future choice in our rapidly changing world.
The new report details a soup-to-nuts approach that leverages Army culture to integrate energy security and sustainability into all levels of planning, procurement, system design, construction, land use, testing, training, and leadership development throughout the Army, including family members, civilian employees, and host communities:
Our people are our strength… Our education and training will incorporate evolving knowledge, doctrine, and policy to guide Soldiers, Civilians, and Leaders to incorporate sustainability into planning and decision making. Organizational resilience and sustainability concepts will be integrated into Soldier and Civilian education programs at every level, from basic training to senior service colleges, as well as programs that focus on the holistic health and well-being of our people.
A Long Road To Energy Security
Aside from a focus on Army culture, innovation, and behavior change, the new report zeroes in on energy resources, and water:
We will improve resource utilization by considering energy, water, and waste systems holistically so that optimal solutions are developed to involve all three. The Army will prioritize solutions that reduce multiple resources. The Army can use energy more efficiently by purchasing energy efficient products, modernizing buildings and utility systems, purchasing energy efficient vehicles, and using more renewable/alternative energy sources.
Another part of the energy security strategy is to ensure that Army energy resources are diversified, redundant, and “disconnected from one another in time” (we’re going to include portable power in that category). Along those lines, the energy security strategy calls for increased use of flexible, multi-fuel microgrids.
Clearly, the Army can’t switch off its petroleum taps overnight, but the emphasis on energy efficiency throughout the new report makes it clear that the aim is to slow the torrent to a trickle.
Over and above all this, the main driver behind the report is force effectiveness. However, the energy security report also addresses two major factors that have been (or should be) making headlines in recent years. One is the budgetary pressure on the Army, and the Department of Defense as a whole. While oil prices have crashed recently, a pickup is inevitable. When oil goes up, so does the cost of training and readiness. The future demands greater efficiency.
The other factor is the unacceptable loss of life involved in fuel and water convoys, as detailed in a 2009 report by the Army Environmental Policy Institute (and further explored in the film The Burden). Transporting vast quantities of heavy, volatile fuel over vast distances does not serve a nimble, flexible force to begin with, and the avoidable loss of life only serves to underscore the vital role that locally sourced, renewable energy will play in the future force.
Rex Tillerson’s Energy Security Strategy
As for ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, back in 2012 he made the case that climate change is “manageable,” and it looks like he hasn’t changed his tune over the past three years. Here he is, speaking at a shareholder meeting last month as described in The Guardian (from an earlier Associated Press report):
The CEO of one of the world’s largest oil companies downplayed the effects of climate change at his company’s annual meeting Wednesday, telling shareholders his firm hadn’t invested in renewable energy because “We choose not to lose money on purpose.”
“Mankind has this enormous capacity to deal with adversity,” ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson told the meeting, pointing to technologies that can combat inclement weather “that may or may not be induced by climate change.”
Well, ExxonMobil may have dropped the ball on renewables but as we’ve reported many (as in thismany) times at CleanTechnica, the US Army and the Defense Department are more than willing to pick it up.
Image (from ES2, cropped): courtesy of US Army via Army Magazine, First Place 2014 Contest Winner, “Bush Rush” by Christina Graber.
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