New Report Undermines Fox News' Attacks On Military Use Of Alternative Fuels


Fox News has been deriding military investments in alternative fuels as a “wasteful” priority. Yet a new report from the Center for Naval Analyses Military Advisory Board cites the need for low carbon fuels and other actions to mitigate manmade climate change as imperative to America's national security.

The network was outraged this week over the Defense Department's investment in biofuels for warships and fighter jets, following a Government Accountability Office report that noted the cost of the alternative jet fuel made from algae.

On the May 10 edition of Cashin' In, host Eric Bolling likened federal investment in low carbon jet fuel to “taxpayer money waste,” saying “this is what happens when you force ... government into an industry they have no business being in, i.e. green energy.” Bolling cherry-picked the most expensive fuel tested -- made from algae -- as the subject of his ire, as did Fox hosts Bret Baier and Neil Cavuto on May 8, decrying “green” programs like the federal investment as a waste of money.

And on the May 9 broadcast of Fox & Friends, host Steve Doocy wondered, “Why is the Department of Defense splurging on things like green fuel,” featuring Sean Parnell, a retired U.S. Army Captain and Ranger, to claim that military investments in alternative fuels are “overall indicative of a Department of Defense that just does not have its priorities straight at all.”

But in fact, the DOD's interest in biofuels is within the scope of their main priority: national security. On the heels of Fox smearing alternative energy research, a new report by the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) Military Advisory Board determines that climate change “will increase security risks over much of the planet” and calls for “changes in our communities, at home and abroad.” The New York Times summarized the report's findings on how climate change will threaten national security:

The CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board found that climate change-induced drought in the Middle East and Africa is leading to conflicts over food and water and escalating longstanding regional and ethnic tensions into violent clashes. The report also found that rising sea levels are putting people and food supplies in vulnerable coastal regions like eastern India, Bangladesh and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam at risk and could lead to a new wave of refugees.

In addition, the report predicted that an increase in catastrophic weather events around the world will create more demand for American troops, even as flooding and extreme weather events at home could damage naval ports and military bases. 

The report emphasized that the “U.S. military will need to adjust to the effects of climate change on its infrastructure.” It cited Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, former Inspector General in the Department of the Navy, to explain how the military should provide early investment to technology that could curb climate change:

Vice Admiral Gunn praised the department's move toward increasing its use of biofuels. “That is an example where the DOD can help incubate new advances in technology,” he said. “Even if the services don't end up buying enormous amounts of these fuels, providing a market early on in their development that supports financing of these projects is a great contribution.”

Reducing dependence on oil also is a serious concern for General Hoffman, who remembers the Air Force reaction during the oil shocks of the late 1970s. “I saw the behavior before and after to address that, and then I see how we're addressing it today, and it's disappointing,” he said. “We did some remarkable things back then.”

On the military's responsibility to turn to alternative fuels, the CNA Military Advisory Board noted that as the “single largest user of oil in the United States,” the military's efforts to reduce dependence on a single fuel source “make our bases more operationally resilient and our fighting forces more effective.”

This report echoed assessments from military leaders and think tanks who have been stating for years that climate change is a national security threat. Brig. General Chris King recently likened climate change to a “100-year war.”  And the DOD's Quadrennial Defense Review stated that climate change is a “threat multiplier” that “will aggravate stressors abroad ... that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”

Co-author of the report and meteorologist Admiral David Titley noted that melting ice caps and climate change cannot wait around for Fox to get serious on science -- and the network has a history of dismissingmocking, and reversing the national security threat of climate change. Adm. Titley warned, “The ice doesn't care about politics or who's caucusing with whom, or Democrats or Republicans.”