Volt-Bashing Trumps National Security In The Conservative Media
Conservative  media outlets are claiming  that the military is purchasing more electric vehicles in an attempt  to "prop up the Obama administration's green agenda." But military leaders across the political spectrum say that the Pentagon's green initiatives will enhance  military effectiveness and strengthen national security.
Last month, Stars and Stripes reported  that the Defense Department plans to add about 1,500 "road-capable" electric cars to its fleet over the next few years. So far, the military has purchased 168 plug-in electric vehicles -- including some Chevy Volts. Thomas Hicks, the Navy's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy, recently told  Scientific American that the goal of the military's green initiatives is "improving our combat capability, improving our mission effectiveness, and reducing our vulnerabilities to foreign sources of fossil fuel."
But conservative media outlets have conjured up another motive, accusing the Obama administration of using taxpayer dollars to boost GM's sales numbers -- even though the military is buying several types of electric vehicles. A Breitbart post said : "The Obama administration is helping General Motors again by buying up its struggling line of electric cars." And a Washington Free Beacon article stated : "The Pentagon's massive car-buying scheme is the latest example of government trying to help GM raise its sales volumes."
Other conservative outlets are calling the purchases a "political statement ," and an attempt  to "prop up the Obama administration's green agenda." And Fox News, which never  misses  an  opportunity  to lambast the Volt, issued the self-fulfilling prophecy  that the military's purchase will become "the latest controversy in the Volt's short life."
Several conservative outlets cited  a Reuters report  that GM is losing up to $49,000 on every Volt sold to suggest that electric vehicles are a waste  of taxpayer money. But as the International Business Times pointed out , this figure does not take into account future Volt sales or the application of its technology to other products, which will lower per-vehicle costs. GM called  the Reuters figure "grossly wrong," and said  that it expects to break even by the time the second-generation Volt is introduced in a few years. Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz wrote  in Forbes that "[m]aybe the Volt, a first-generation technology masterpiece and the most-awarded car in automotive history, will never make a really decent profit. But succeeding generations of the same technology will."
International Business Times noted  that the Volt is a forward-looking investment by GM, which "should be reassuring to investors and the market." Likewise, the military's investment in electric vehicles is part of a long-term strategy to reduce its dependence on oil, mitigate the risks of climate change and enhance national security.
The Pentagon recognizes  that our reliance on oil is problematic not only because of the threat of climate change , but also because of volatile oil prices and supply disruptions that can threaten the military's energy sources. Transporting fuel can also be deadly  in a warzone. For these reasons, military officials say that investing in energy efficiency and clean energy technology is essential  to protecting national security.
Retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn underscored  that point yesterday in a Reuters op-ed, writing that the military has invested in clean energy technologies "for the tremendous value they provide in combat effectiveness, cost savings and energy security." He added that "these investments will save lives and make America a more secure nation."