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Biden’s climate transition will harm our military readiness and national security

Washington Examiner: Biden’s climate transition will harm our military readiness and national security
By Rep. Mike Waltz
June 22, 2023

What if I told you China ’s People’s Liberation Army or some other adversary could strike the U.S. homeland through cyber or by cutting off critical supply chains in a way that rivaled the carnage of the Sept. 11 attacks?

Such a brutal assault against our citizens would surely demand an immediate and overwhelming response that couldn’t be excused with sanctions or precision strikes. Rather, the American public would demand such an attack be met with a whole-of-military response that required all our land, air, and sea assets.

This is a scenario we hope to deter, but one which we must increasingly be prepared for.

Yet, the climate reforms the Biden administration is swiftly implementing will cripple the military’s readiness for our next conflict. And the signals these policy changes are sending to industry could also damage our industrial base for years to come.

Under the leadership of Army Secretary Christine Warmouth, the U.S. Army has set about a strategy to rapidly address climate change with aggressive transformations to reduce carbon emissions from installations and vehicles. Notably, the Army’s 2022 Climate Strategy lays out objectives to “provide 100% carbon-pollution-free electricity for Army installations’ needs by 2030” and attain net-zero Army emissions by 2050.

Additionally, the Defense Department has signaled to the industry that it is transitioning its 170,000 non-tactical vehicle fleet to zero emissions and that the U.S. Army is spending research and development funds for future procurement of electric tanks .

Last year, the Army also unveiled its first solar microgrid at Fort Bragg — part of its goal to establish microgrids at all Army installations by 2035.

But there’s one glaring problem: our supply chains aren’t suited to sustain such an overwhelming transition. To power such a shift, the U.S. needs critical minerals such as lithium, manganese, and cobalt to power these vehicles. And a lot of it.

China currently controls nearly 80% of this global market, and there’s no strategy in place for the Defense Department to catch up anytime soon.

At a House Armed Services hearing last month, I questioned Secretary Warmouth on the issue of installing solar panels at Army installations and if she knows where the source material and components to power these grids come from. Her response : "I don't know the answer ... there's a good chance that those panels were made in China."

Despite the Biden administration's efforts to provide $2.8 billion in grants to miners developing lithium, nickel, and other rare earth elements needed for renewable energy sources, it currently takes at least a decade to obtain a mining permit in the U.S.

Factor in the increased likelihood that China may invade Taiwan in the next few years — a crisis that will massively disrupt our supply chain, effectively cutting us off from the solar panel, electric battery, and lithium markets. We would be reliant on our adversary for the critical materials that we need to deter and, if necessary, defeat that same adversary.

Not only are the supply chain demands of electrifying our military vehicles in question, but so is the infrastructure.

How would we possibly be able to maintain an electric vehicle fleet in, say, the mountains of Afghanistan or deserts of Iraq? Last I checked, there aren’t charging stations in the middle of battlefields.

We’ve certainly struggled in recent conflicts with transporting fuel supplies to the front lines, but I’m extremely skeptical a global fuel infrastructure can be replaced with a nonexistent supply system of lithium batteries, charging stations, and a variety of new parts.

The timetable the Biden administration has put forth is too aggressive and doesn’t sufficiently consider sustainment should we find ourselves in a conflict in the near or medium term.

Additionally, the Pentagon has already found itself objecting to the Biden administration’s forceful plans to expand offshore wind projects off the Atlantic coast. According to Bloomberg, a number of the areas leased for offshore wind in the mid-Atlantic would likely interfere with military operations for bombing ranges, training fighters, and weapon stations.

In Florida, I have shared similar concerns that offshore wind expansion would also endanger our Gulf Test Range, one of the only missile testing sites in the world used by the Navy and Air Force, and introduced legislation that would prohibit its development.

As chairman of the Subcommittee on Military Readiness, I have serious concerns with the Biden administration’s forced clean energy transition. Industry is being baited into producing these technologies at great cost and use of time. Offshore wind could seriously disrupt the training and logistics of our military personnel. And our warfighters could be stationed at bases and sent to the battlefield in vehicles with unreliable sources of power that is not only produced by our most dangerous adversary but interferes with their training.

There are many ways to address climate change, but it can’t be done at the expense of our national security with strategies that make us more dependent and less ready. The goal of our Pentagon leadership must be training and equipping a fighting force that is the most lethal, not the most eco-friendly.