Veterans Tell Department of Defense to Reduce Fossil Fuel Dependence and Develop Renewables
The Pew Project on National Security, Energy, and Climate today released a letter signed by more than 350 veterans, including retired generals and admirals, as well as former Armed Services Committee chairmen Sen. John Warner and Rep. Ike Skelton, urging the president and Congress to support the Pentagon’s initiatives to diversify its energy sources, limit demand and lower costs.
The letter stresses the importance of the military’s ability to deploy clean energy technology to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and strengthen our national security, energy independence and economic security.
As the world’s largest consumer of liquid fuels, the military is both becoming more energy efficient and working to test and certify advanced biofuels in its ships, planes and vehicles. By investing in alternative fuels today, the Department of Defense (DoD) is positioning itself to take advantage of these new products when they become cost-competitive with conventional fuels. This second generation of “drop-in” biofuels is produced from domestic non-food-stock plant and biomass sources, requires no changes to current engine design, and provides the same or better performance than conventional fuels.
“Today, it takes 22 gallons of fuel per soldier per day to support combat operations, a 175 percent increase over the Vietnam War era,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Project on National Security, Energy, and Climate. “The national security community agrees that both the DoD and the nation as a whole must reduce their dependence on foreign oil. However, some in Congress are working to cripple the department’s ability to move forward on energy innovation with its advanced biofuels program. This would hurt DoD’s capacity to shield its budget from oil price shocks and ensure operational effectiveness.”
For every $10 increase in a barrel of oil, the department pays an additional $1.4 billion annually—money that comes at the cost of operations and readiness. Some congressional amendments, if adopted, would bar DoD from purchasing or using alternative fuels and could also affect the fuels used to power unmanned vehicles for military operations.
“The bottom line is that the four branches of our military need our nation’s full support to continue seeking energy solutions through innovation, as their predecessors have done for generations,” added Sen. Warner, a former Navy secretary as well as former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Our nation’s energy security is linked to increasing the diversity of domestic sources of energy, both conventional and alternative, to lessen our reliance on foreign sources.”
"The development of renewable energy sources is a national security, economic and environmental imperative," Gen. Anthony Jackson, USMC (Ret.), said. "The next generation of Americans is deserving of our commitment to become less dependent on foreign fossil fuels."
Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, USMC (Ret.), added, "The U.S. military faces strategic, operational and tactical vulnerabilities due to its reliance on foreign oil. Spikes in fuel costs lead to cuts in operations—reducing flying time, sailing time and training time, thereby reducing the military’s overall effectiveness. We should use emerging technologies to limit these vulnerabilities."
In its report More Fight, Less Fuel, the Defense Science Board noted: “DoD’s energy problems are not unlike those of the nation. Just like the nation, to reduce its energy risks, DoD must significantly improve its energy productivity and use renewable sources where possible … As these technologies find their way into commercial products, they will also limit our national dependence on foreign oil.”
Innovation has been a consistent priority and role for the U.S. military. The military’s leadership, cooperation with the private sector and early adoption have been critical to the commercialization of many technologies such as semiconductors, nuclear energy, the Internet and the Global Positioning System. Maintaining energy innovation, inside and outside the DoD, is critical to our national security.
By Gwen Ranniger
Fertility issues are on the rise, and new literature points to ways that your environment may be part of the problem. We've rounded up some changes you can make in your life to promote a healthy reproductive system.
Infertility and Environmental Health: The Facts<ul> <li>Sperm count is declining steeply, significantly, and continuously in Western countries, with no signs of tapering off. Erectile dysfunction is on the rise, and women are facing increasing rates of miscarriage and difficulty conceiving.</li><li>Why? A huge factor is our environmental health. Hormones (particularly testosterone and estrogen) are what make reproductive function possible, and our hormones are increasingly being negatively affected by harmful, endocrine-disrupting chemicals commonplace in the modern world—in our homes, foods, and lifestyles.</li></ul>
What You Can Do About It<p>It should be noted that infertility can be caused by any number of factors, including medical conditions that cannot be solved with a simple change at home.</p><p><em>If you or a loved one are struggling with infertility, our hearts and sympathies are with you. Your pain is validated and we hope you receive answers to your struggles.</em></p><p>Read on to discover our tips to restore or improve reproductive health by removing harmful habits and chemicals from your environment.</p>
Edit Your Health<ul><li>If you smoke, quit! Smoking is toxic, period. If someone in your household smokes, urge them to quit or institute a no-smoking ban in the house. It is just as important to avoid secondhand smoke.</li><li>Maintain a healthy weight. Make sure your caloric intake is right for your body and strive for moderate exercise.</li><li>Eat cleanly! Focus on whole foods and less processed meals and snacks. Studies have found that eating a Mediterranean-style diet is linked to increased fertility.</li><li>Minimize negative/constant stress—or find ways to manage it. Hobbies such as meditation or yoga that encourage practiced breathing are great options to reduce the physical toll of stress.</li></ul>
Edit Your Home<p>We spend a lot of time in our homes—and care that what we bring into them will not harm us. You may not be aware that many commonly found household items are sources of harmful, endocrine-disrupting compounds. Read on to find steps you can take—and replacements you should make—in your home.</p><p><strong>In the Kitchen</strong></p><ul> <li>Buy organic, fresh, unprocessed foods whenever possible. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/clean-grocery-shopping-guide-2648563801.html" target="_blank">Read our grocery shopping guide for more tips about food.</a></li><li>Switch to glass, ceramics, or stainless steel for food storage: plastics often contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals that affect fertility. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/bpa-pollution-2645493129.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Learn more about the dangers of plastic here.</a></li><li>Ban plastic from the microwave. If you have a plastic splatter cover, use paper towel, parchment paper, or an upside-down plate instead.</li><li>Upgrade your cookware: non-stick may make life easier, but it is made with unsafe chemical compounds that seep into your food. Cast-iron and stainless steel are great alternatives.</li><li>Filter tap water. Glass filter pitchers are an inexpensive solution; if you want to invest you may opt for an under-the-sink filter.</li><li>Check your cleaning products—many mainstream products are full of unsafe chemicals. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/how-to-shop-for-cleaning-products-while-avoiding-toxics-2648130273.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Check out our guide to safe cleaning products for more info</a>.</li></ul><p><strong>In the Bathroom </strong></p><ul> <li>Check the labels on your bathroom products: <em>fragrance-free, paraben-free, phthalate-free</em> and organic labels are all great signs. You can also scan the ingredients lists for red-flag chemicals such as: triclosan, parabens, and dibutyl phthalate. Use the <a href="https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/" target="_blank">EWG Skin Deep database</a> to vet your personal products.</li><li>Ditch the vinyl shower curtain—that new shower curtain smell is chemical-off gassing. Choose a cotton or linen based curtain instead.</li><li>Banish air fresheners—use natural fresheners (an open window, baking soda, essential oils) instead.</li></ul><p><strong>Everywhere Else</strong></p><ul><li>Remove wall-to-wall carpet. If you've been considering wood or tile, here's your sign: many synthetic carpets can emit harmful chemicals for years. If you want a rug, choose wool or plant materials such as jute or sisal.</li><li>Prevent dust build-up. Dust can absorb chemicals in the air and keep them lingering in your home. Vacuum rugs and wipe furniture, trim, windowsills, fans, TVs, etc. Make sure to have a window open while you're cleaning!</li><li>Leave shoes at the door! When you wear your shoes throughout the house, you're tracking in all kinds of chemicals. If you like wearing shoes inside, consider a dedicated pair of "indoor shoes" or slippers.</li><li>Clean out your closet—use cedar chips or lavender sachets instead of mothballs, and use "green" dry-cleaning services over traditional methods. If that isn't possible, let the clothes air out outside or in your garage for a day before putting them back in your closet.</li><li>Say no to plastic bags!</li><li>We asked 22 endocrinologists what products they use - and steer clear of—in their homes. <a href="https://www.ehn.org/nontoxic-products-2648564261.html" target="_blank">Check out their responses here</a>.</li></ul>
Learn More<ul><li>For more information and action steps, be sure to check out <em>Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race</em> by EHS adjunct scientist Shanna Swan, PhD: <a href="https://www.shannaswan.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">available for purchase here.</a></li><li><a href="https://www.ehn.org/st/Subscribe_to_Above_The_Fold" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sign up for our Above the Fold Newsletter </a>to stay up to date about impacts on the environment and your health.</li></ul>
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