A Further Perspective

How Green Activists Target the Military and Endanger Our Security

Politically fashionable plans could undercut military readiness.

By 1.22.13

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Not only could you lose your job under the current environmental regime, but you could also lose your life.

That is one of the inescapable conclusions that can be drawn from a recently released book authored by Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a scholar with the Manhattan Institute, who was kind enough to discuss some of her key findings at her office in Washington D.C.

With President Obama re-elected to a second term, green activists who hold considerable sway with federal agencies are well-positioned to advance policies that jeopardize not just the economy, but also America’s geo-political standing, she explained.

That last part often gets overlooked, but in reality the nation’s energy policy is inextricably linked to national security. Unfortunately, top officials within the Defense Department have already succumbed to environmental directives that could work to the advantage of military adversaries, Furchtgott-Roth observes.

“What many environmentalists view as morally superior, could have very negative policy ramifications, not just for the economy, but also for our military,” she said. “If the military does become more reliant upon renewable energy and biofuels, as opposed to more traditional energy sources, there are ways this could conceivably be exploited by a future adversary.”

The Obama White House has already pressured the Air Force and Navy into becoming more reliant upon renewable energy, according to the book. While this may be politically fashionable, these plans could undercut military readiness, Furchtgott-Roth warns.

“Although shipping diesel and gasoline to remote battlefields is costly, using renewable energy has its own set of challenges,” she tells readers. “It takes up massive amounts of land to gather very diluted energy streams. Recharging a laptop with a fold-up solar panel is plausible, but larger devices would require more substantial panels, or even windmills, that could be spotted by the enemy.”

Nevertheless, recent statements from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta indicate that climate change is now viewed as a pressing national security threat.

“Rising sea-levels, severe droughts, the melting of the polar ice caps, the more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” he said during an address to the Environmental Defense Fund in May 2012. The Defense Department’s re-evaluation of its energy use, and its pursuit of renewable fuel sources is linked to the debate over climate change.

Furchtgott-Roth’s book, entitled, Regulating to Disaster: How Green Job Policies Are Damaging America’s Economy, argues persuasively that it is the anti-energy global warming policies, not global warming per se, that are the real national security threats.

Take the Keystone XL pipeline, which environmentalists have delayed from going into full production. Along with all its economic advantages, there was a national security component at work in that the pipeline would provide the U.S. military to critical energy resources in a stable, friendly region of the world. But it has not yet been approved by the U.S. State Department.

“Environmentalists attacked the proposed Keystone XL pipeline because it would expand the use of the oil sands in Alberta, Canada, which is a more carbon-intensive form of oil than that produced from traditional underground reservoirs,” Furchtgott-Roth explains. “Yet in the State Department’s environmental review it was noted that ‘Oil sands mining projects have reduced greenhouse gas emissions intensity by an average of 39 percent between 1990 and 2008 and are working toward further reductions.’ ”

But there’s no point in bothering Team Obama with the facts.

Instead of pursuing policies that would create new job opportunities, the administration is peddling the concept of green jobs, an elusive, nebulous concept that is defined differently across federal and state agencies. There is often a short degree of separation between the duties and responsibilities of green workers and non-green workers.

“While you are writing this article it is possible that you have a green job,” Furchtgott-Roth said. “My book could qualify as an environmental book since it is about green jobs. Book publishers are also green if they issue environmental books.”

She added, “Creating new jobs is hard work. It is a lot easier to simply redefine an existing job as a new job, a distinguished job. Let us call it a ‘green job.’ And to show we have made progress, let us say we have made lots of green jobs. Our government may not be good at creating jobs but it excels at relabeling existing jobs as green jobs.”

At the federal level, the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is responsible for determining what qualifies as a green job, and what does not. What this means in practice is that some positions are viewed as environmentally virtuous, while “other jobs languish in moral inferiority without the benefit of government subsidies,” Furchtgott-Roth said.

Green jobs include work “in businesses that produce goods or provide services that benefit the environment or conserve natural resources” or “jobs in which workers’ duties involve making their establishment’s production processes more environmentally friendly or use fewer natural resources,” according to the BLS.

Some creates some very odd juxtapositions. For example, farmers who produce corn for consumption are not viewed as green workers, while farmers who produce corn for ethanol earn the label. Although the former may be providing food to needy populations, he does not enjoy a favored standing.

Furchtogott-Roth’s book delves into the environmental movement’s view of moral superiority and how it is used to rationalize a larger role for government often at expense of public safety and the larger national interest. Consider the new minimum fuel efficiency standard the President Obama set in July 2011 and the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations, first enacted in the 1970s. In response to these regulatory changes, automakers have been forced to downsize their vehicles, and add in new technology that is passed to the consumers in the form of vehicle that are more expensive and less safe.

Furchtgott-Roth cites a 2002 study in her book from the National Research Council that found the first CAFE standards were responsible for anywhere from 13,000 to 26,000 more Americans on the receiving end of severe injuries on the road because they were in lighter cars.

Up until now, it has not been made clear to the public how dangerous green policies can be to their livelihood.

But now that green policies have established a foothold in the Pentagon, Furchtgott-Roth sees an opening to reframe the debate over regulatory policy.

“Gambling taxpayer dollars, Americans’ livelihoods, and the lives of drivers is bad enough, but certainly even the greenest of environmentalists can admit that it has gone too far when the lives of American soldiers become the playground of environmentalists,” she said.

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, who has been nominated by President Obama to become U.S. secretary of defense, has expressed skepticism toward the idea that human activity drives climate; that’s promising. But he also appears open to the idea that climate change should be linked in with national security; that could mean trouble. Senators who have misgivings about Hagel’s nomination ought to inquire about his stance on green policies. 

Photo: UPI.

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About the Author

Kevin Mooney is an investigative reporter with free market think tanks associated with the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. He has also written for the Daily Caller, the Washington Times, the Washington Examiner, NetRightDaily.com and NewsBusters.