US Military vs a Political Fad: Renewable Energy

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By John Droz

Part One of several installments.

Abstract

Most US citizens are of the opinion that our military is held in the highest regard by our national representatives, and given preferential treatment.


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Most citizens assume that our leaders would never allow our national security to be undermined by political ideology — particularly after the 9-11 tragedy.

Most US citizens likewise believe that we would never sacrifice the lives of dedicated military personnel, to promote an unscientific political scheme.

They would be wrong on all counts.

There are two fundamental questions here:

– Should our energy policies be written by lobbyists (as vs being based on genuine scientific assessments)?

– Should our military capability be weakened in the pursuit of unscientific political agendas?

Most US citizens would say NO to both questions. However, as this report explains, both of these are happening today in the US.

Not surprisingly, neither of the above two realities are publicly acknowledged. In fact, if one casually listens to Capitol Hill chatter, one could easily be fooled into thinking that both of the above statements are false. They are not.

If undermining our military isn’t enough, this political agenda can also:

•pose a life-threatening health risk to regional citizens,

result in a significant net economic loss to the inflicted communities, and

initiate ecosystem destruction that rivals the consequences of climate change (according to the National Science Foundation).

We need to get beyond the superficial soundbites… We need to remember that actions are more important than words… We need to do some critical thinking.

The messages in this Report are quite simple:

our energy policies should be based on real Science, and

our national security should not be sacrificed for any political agenda.

If you share those perspectives, please pass this onto your Congressional representatives, and ask that they take action to fix these two significant national problems.

Conflict Example #1: Desert Wind

The large Desert Wind project has over one hundred and fifty 500 foot tall structures, are projected to be built on some 20,000 acres of land in Northeast North Carolina. The Spanish company Iberdrola is the developer.

An integral part of the nearby large Hampton Roads Naval military base is a sophisticated and semi-classified AN/TPS-71 ROTHR (Over The Horizon Radar) site — one of only two in the US.

This state-of-the-art ROTHR facility is a key part of our homeland security, and is charged with monitoring criminal operations, terrorist threats, and menacing activity of non-friendly countries in the Gulf of Mexico and northern South America (an area covering over 2 million square miles). This ROTHR equipment is also intimately involved with other critical matters of national importance like hurricane predictions, climate change monitoring, etc.

The government’s own studies (e.g. here and here) concluded that any industrial wind project closer than 28 miles to a ROTHR receiver will seriously degrade its performance. The Desert Wind project is 14 miles away from the ROTHR receiver. (Note that the Desert Wind turbines are also larger than those used in the government’s study.)

The Commanding Officer of the Texas military base near where the only other US ROTHR facility is located, was extremely concerned about the serious problems caused by industrial wind turbines… Also, a senior military leader recently testified before Congress [page 20] that he had “little confidence” in proposed solutions put forward by wind developers. Despite all this, the Navy was mandated to sign an Agreement with Iberdrola in October of 2014.

Note the Agreement says that the Desert Wind project can only be temporarily shut down by a “special” National Security declaration (e.g. one signed by the President). In other words, all of the other daily critical functions provided by this facility, do not meet the arbitrary level of importance determined in this one-sided anti-military agreement. The Navy has apparently acknowledged that there could be an operation performance loss of about 15% due to the wind project.

Conflict Example #2: Pantego Wind

When considering where to locate their investments, some key features that wind developers look for are: a) a state with an RPS, b) a rural community in financial distress, and c) a community that does not have a protective wind ordinance. Those are major reasons why Beaufort County, NC was selected by Invenergy for the Pantego wind project.

Due to the several nearby nature preserves and national wildlife refuges, there was strong environmental protests (e.g. here and here) against this 11,000 acre project with 50 turbines, each 500 feet tall. Even the US Fish & Wildlife Service weighed in and stated that this project caused them “great concern.”

However, the military implications are even more problematic. Seymour Johnson AFB is located in nearby Goldsboro, NC. One of the primary missions of this base is to train fighter pilots to fly low-level routes (e.g. to avoid radar).

The conscientious CO of SJ (Col Jeannie Leavitt) was alarmed enough by the Pantego project to write a letter to the NC Governor. That outlined her serious concern how this wind project would affect the base’s mission and operational performance. Because she received few assurances from the Governor, the CO subsequently authorized an in-depth study on this major problem.

In that very revealing report (with excellent maps), three specific concerns were identified and then elaborated on:

turbines in the flight path would require crews to maintain higher altitudes than those required for low-altitude training profiles;

the wind turbines could have a significant impact on other training conducted at low-altitude, specifically low-altitude intercept training;

adding several 500 foot obstacles to a route where thousands of low- altitude high speed military training sorties are flown every year will increase safety of flight risk, especially at night.

Note: A fourth concern of radar interference should also have been added.

SJ supporters then put their hope on the DoD Siting Clearinghouse process. Persons at the table for those subsequent “negotiations” stated that SJ strongly disagreed with the proposed solution by the developer (to reduce the number of turbines, but to leave several of these 500 foot obstacles in the flight path of SJ pilots). However SJ was told by their DoD superiors that this was all they were going to get. They not only had to sign the DoD brokered “Agreement” but they also had to publicly support it. So they did.

Although this project has yet to be built, how the DoD process bartered away the mission of this critical military facility, is very disturbing.


Part Two of several installments.

Abstract

Most US citizens are of the opinion that our military is held in the highest regard by our national representatives, and given preferential treatment.

Most citizens assume that our leaders would never allow our national security to be undermined by political ideology — particularly after the 9-11 tragedy.

Most US citizens likewise believe that we would never sacrifice the lives of dedicated military personnel, to promote an unscientific political scheme.

They would be wrong on all counts.

Some Conclusions

a. State or federal governments should not be supporting ANY type of alternative energy, until there is a genuine scientific assessment which concludes that said energy option is a NET Societal Benefit. (Just because lobbyists have arbitrarily called something “renewable” does not mean it gets a free pass from scientific scrutiny.)

b. The DoD Siting Clearinghouse process (i.e. the Skelton NDAA) should be changed so that aircraft and personnel safety, military operational readiness, military mission impairment, etc. are all sufficient reasons for DoD not to approve a wind project. (Currently none of these are allowable justifications for the Clearinghouse to reject a wind project!)

c. The DoD Siting Clearinghouse approval process should be changed so that ALL military related mitigation costs to accommodate a wind project should be fully borne by the wind developer, not the taxpayer. (Currently the taxpayer pays almost all of these costs.)

d. To protect US citizens, the DoD Siting Clearinghouse approval process should stipulate that the industrial wind energy developer is legally liable for all other consequences of their for-profit project (e.g. adverse health effects on local citizens, eco-system loss, etc, ).

e. Despite the impression that one of the Committee testifiers tried to convey (see More Testimony), the Defense Science Board did NOT make a blanket endorsement for renewable energy for the military.

f. Asking active military about the consequences from wind energy, etc. is a low-yield effort, as they have been directed to stand down.

g. The Pantego wind project is a major threat to the mission of the important Seymour Johnson AFB, and the lives of pilots being trained there. The Pantego project should not be allowed to be constructed until all turbines are moved from being anywhere near the long-established low-level flight path used by this air force base.

h. The Desert Wind project could be a serious national security threat. This project should not be allowed to be constructed until there is scientific proof from independent experts that there will be zero degradation on the nearby critical ROTHR facility. Any and all evaluation or mitigation costs should be paid by the developer.

Some Background

Politically Undermining Our Military

Many citizens are confused about how the military internally functions. Between its own language (including numerous acronyms), and a contrasting culture, it’s often a very different world from what civilians are used to.

Another easily misunderstood aspect of the military is its leadership. The US hierarchy is that the military Commander-in-Chief is a civilian (often with no military background). This individual is also a professional politician.

One problematic downside of this arrangement is that some military dictates can end up being more about promoting a political party’s ideology, rather than advancing what is in the best interest of our national defense.

The current situation with renewable energy is a prime example. Due to successful lobbying, renewable energy has become a politically favored energy option. Although there is zero scientific proof that alternatives like wind energy and biofuels are a net societal benefit, they have been enormously subsidized by taxpayers and ratepayers. This is a good example of how many of our national policies are essentially determined by self-serving lobbyists.

But what about the military? Shouldn’t military decisions be made on the basis of national defense and not promoting political favorites? One would hope, but that is certainly not the case here.

Consider: is it in our military interest to dilute carefully-formulated high- performance jet fuel with plant-based alternatives? Is it in our military interest to run an army base with unreliable and uncontrollable electricity? Is it in our military interest to replace nuclear-powered navy ships with sailboats? Is it in our military interest to build wind mills instead of buying better weapons?

Is it in our national interest to compromise the safety, operation and mission of US military bases, just to allow a politically-favored investor the opportunity to establish a lucrative wind or solar business?

Most citizens would say NO to these questions, but this is what’s happening.

Some might respond by saying: “Hasn’t the military generated reports saying that some of these are actually a good thing?” Yes they have.

One of the things military personnel are trained to do extremely well, is to: follow orders. Those military report authors are very aware what the wishes of their superiors are. They know full well that any report that runs contrary to those wishes, will effectively end the author’s military career.

What about the term: “renewable energy”? What needs to be appreciated is that this itself is actually a clever marketing concept, of recent origin. There is no true scientific definition of “renewable” energy. [To confirm that this is true, simply look at the several states that have adopted lobbyist driven RPS mandates — and you’ll see that what qualifies as “renewable” differs widely.]

Even if we accept this marketing term as being legitimate, another startling realization is that this is not some homogeneous collection of alternative energy sources. The fact is that they are extremely diverse: hydro, geothermal, wind, solar, biofuels, tidal — and nuclear power! See this excellent list.

The point is that each option is this dissimilar assortment needs to be evaluated on its own merits. Because of this exceptional diversity, it is a MAJOR mistake to make generalizations about this collection. In other words, just because an energy source has been arbitrarily awarded the “renewable” mantle, that should NOT give it a free pass from scientific scrutiny!

What about technical reports that have been generated outside of the military? The authors of these documents also know full well what is politically correct, and what their funders want to see. Anything different will end future grants.

Another exceptionally key thing to understand is that there’s an ENORMOUS difference between “a report by scientists” and a “scientific report.” Please see ScienceUnderAssault.info for a more detailed explanation.

In the energy sector there has been a LOT of hand waving, mis-direction, obfuscation and pontification about alternative energy sources. However, there is no genuine scientific assessment that has concluded that wind energy, solar, ethanol or biofuels are a NET societal benefit. Nada. Zip.

Keep that in mind as you read through the rest of this report about how our military is being purposefully compromised in the energy area — with zero scientific proof of any net societal benefits.

Wind Energy’s DoD Review

One of the outcomes of the cited House Armed Services Committee meeting was that a DoD Siting Clearinghouse was established. The stated objective for creating this additional bureaucracy layer, was to “improve transparency, consistency, and timeliness” of the wind energy-military siting process.

That all sounds nice, but the more important question is: does this really protect the operational readiness and mission performance of military bases? The answer is NO. Carefully read this May 2013 DoD report (with my notations) to see what they say about their own plan. It clearly states that the DoD Clearinghouse procedure is NOT a wind energy permitting process.

Most significantly, the DoD Clearinghouse stamp-of-approval is NOT a verification that the submitted wind project will not have serious safety, mission and operational readiness impacts on nearby military bases.

Please read that last paragraph again!

Note that their own words very carefully also avoid any reference to objectivity or comprehensiveness — because that is also not their job or interest: “The Department of Defense is committed to maintaining an effective, consistent, transparent, and timely process …”

The specifics of the DoD wind energy siting process are documented in a federal rule, 32 C.F.R. Part 211. What does all that really mean?

Briefly, it says that if a wind project affects some military base’s readiness and operations, there must be negotiations between the developer and the military. However, the impression that there is a real “negotiation” is not accurate. Basically a brokered deal is arrived at — but the broker is more committed to wind energy than the military (see prior section on Congressional Testimony).

There are two defined outcomes of those DoD choreographed negotiations:

1) The issues are “mitigated”.

It’s important to understand that the word mitigated does not mean resolved or fixed, but rather means “made less bad.” Further, this term is uniquely defined in this law to mean: “Actions taken by either or both the DoD or the applicant to ensure that a project does not create an unacceptable risk to the national security of the US”.

[But exactly what is an “unacceptable” national security risk? And who should be responsible to make the changes? Unfortunately both of these questions are almost always answered so that military readiness is reduced

— i.e. that our national security is compromised. The reason is explained in the Congressional Testimony section: that our current political leaders have made promotion of wind energy a higher priority than our military.]

Back to the DOD dictated deal, note that possible mitigations of conflicts between a proposed wind project and an affected military base, would be:

a) the developer making a superficial change (e.g. moving a turbine),

b) the base accepting a diluted mission,

c) the base offloading some of its mission to other facilities, or

d) the base closing, or moving to another location.

Do these options seem balanced? A true negotiation is when both parties make equal concessions. These orchestrated deals are extremely one-sided.

2) The issues are not “mitigated”.

This would be when the developer refuses to make changes of any kind. Not surprisingly there is no difference in the end result. The DoD’s “evaluation” comes down to one single thing, a determination: “if the proposed project would result in an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States”.

Note that DoD’s process has nothing to do with the merits of the project, and nothing to do with the safety, mission, readiness or operational impact on nearby bases — unless it meets the “unacceptable risk to the national security” standard. [Note: out of thousands of applications, less than 1% have met that arbitrary and ill-defined “unacceptable risk” standard.]

The DoD process is still premised on the unproven unscientific assumption that wind energy is net societal benefit. Note that at no point in the DoD Clearinghouse process is there any cost/benefits analysis!

The bottom line is that the DoD Siting process provides no meaningful protections for military bases, or communities near them. Instead it is actually a vehicle setup for wind developers (and their high level political supporters) to be able to pressure military bases into submission. Essentially COs are told that the wind project will happen, so they need to adapt to it — regardless of the reduction in our military capabilities.


Part Three of several installments.

Abstract

Most US citizens are of the opinion that our military is held in the highest regard by our national representatives, and given preferential treatment.

Most citizens assume that our leaders would never allow our national security to be undermined by political ideology — particularly after the 9-11 tragedy.

Most US citizens likewise believe that we would never sacrifice the lives of dedicated military personnel, to promote an unscientific political scheme.

They would be wrong on all counts.

“Energy Security”

and Other Illusions

There are four common “reasons” put forward to justify the irrational (i.e. unscientific) advocacy of all things “renewable.” They are:

a. Diversify the resources used to meet our energy needs.

b. Provide greater energy security through the use of indigenous energy resources.

c. Encourage private investment in renewable energy.

d. Provide improved air quality, etc. to the public.

On the surface, these all seem reasonable and admirable. That’s what the lobbyists are hoping: that we do a superficial assessment, and then move on. Let’s look a bit closer at the merits of each of these justifications…

a – “Diversifying resources” seems desirable, but how about these questions:

1) Exactly what objective evidence is there to say that we do not already have enough diversity available in our current energy sources? None.

2) Specifically what objective evidence is there to say exactly what additional diversity of energy sources we need? None.

3) What objective evidence is there to quantify the net benefits to US businesses and citizens for additional resource diversity? None.

4) Is it in our interest to increase diversity at any cost? No.

5) Is it in our interest to increase diversity at the expense of reduced reliability to the grid? No.

b – “Energy security…” also sounds good, but what about these questions:

1) Exactly what objective evidence says that we do do not already have enough energy security available in our existing energy sources? None.

2) Specifically what objective evidence is there to say exactly what additional energy source we need to give us energy security? None.

3) What objective evidence is there to quantify the net benefits to US businesses and consumers for additional energy security? None.

4) Is it in our interest to increase energy security at any cost? No.

5) Is it in our interest to increase energy security at the expense of reduced reliability to the grid? No.

6) Will we have more energy security by stopping energy purchases from Canada (our largest energy supplier)? No.

7) If we get energy security, how will that security be undermined when some of our important allies are not also able to likewise attain such energy security (as will be the case)? Unknown.

c – “Encourage private investment in renewable energy” again sounds beneficial on the surface, but consider these questions:

1) Specifically what objective evidence is there to say exactly how much

renewable energy we need? None.

2) What evidence is there to objectively quantify the net benefits to US businesses and consumers for additional renewable energy? None.

3) Is it in our interest to increase renewable energy at any cost? No.

4) Is it in our interest to increase renewable energy and incur reduced reliability to the grid? No.

5) If renewable energy is an economically viable source of electricity, why does private investment need to be encouraged by the government?

6) Why does the government feel it is in our interest for them to mandate certain commercial products (wind, solar, biofuels) on the military?

7) Where is the scientific assessment that proves that the government’s mandate of renewable energy on the military is a net technical, economic, environmental, and security benefit? There is none.

d – “Provide improved air quality to the public” also sounds admirable on the surface, but how about these questions:

1) Exactly what scientific evidence concludes that throughout the US there is a pressing need for such improved air quality? Very little.

2) Specifically what objective scientific evidence is there to say exactly how much improved air quality is needed across the US? Very little.

3) What provisions are there to quantify the improved US air quality (e.g. what before-and-after measurements are required prior to a wind project getting a permit)? None.

4) Is it in our interest to improve air quality at any cost? No.

5) Is it in our interest to improve air quality at the expense of reduced reliability to the grid? No.

6) Is there a scientific assessment that proves that the government’s mandate of renewable energy on our military will improve air quality? No.

7) Is it in our interest to improve air quality at the expense of reduced military readiness, or the lives of military personnel? No.

These sample questions should help put these specious claims into a more realistic perspective. Frequently, renewable proponents will also allude to “fossil fuel externalities” (aka liabilities). However, that is only a legitimate position when: a) fossil fuel advantages, and b) renewable energy liabilities are fully factored in. These evangelists never do that.

The conclusion is that blind renewable energy promotion has zero scientific basis. The evidence for alternatives like industrial wind energy, says that they are a NET economic and environmental liability. That’s bad enough, but when renewable promoters also allow our military capabilities to be sabotaged, it’s time to draw the line.

Wind Turbines & Radar — An Overview

There are several problems that industrial wind energy causes our military. Since we’d like to keep this report from being too long, we’ll discuss just one: some impacts on radar (an integral component of our national defense).

1 – Why wind turbine radar interference is harder to solve than it looks.

2 – A NOAA explanation of what happens with radar, with pictures.

3 – A 2013 technical study that acknowledges current issues.

4 – A good report “Wind Energy & Radar: A National Security Risk” that specifically discusses the military impact.

5 – “Defense chiefs fight plans for 115ft wind turbines over fears they may confuse radar and allow enemy planes to evade detection”

6 – “Finland wind farms clash with military radar”

7 – The national Canadian website discusses turbines and weather radar.

8 – An article about a military study in Denmark re radar interference.

9 – A recent NOAA report about radar interference.

10 – A good collection of articles on turbine radar interference. Read through these for other references.

11 – An Aviation Week article referencing a 2013 MIT/Sandia report.

12 – Advanced Radar Research Center studies.

13 – see this list of problems identified by NOAA.

An active military person sent this recent article, which has comments by Canadian military personnel, about the effect of nearby wind projects on them performing their military mission. (These military people evidently do not have the same political directive as our military has.)

In the “What else do you need to know?” category, a particularly telling statement is this, where the military person said that a wind project:

“will create areas where we cannot reliably observe or control military/civilian air traffic”.

Revealing Congressional Testimony

On 6/29/10 there was eye-opening testimony before the US House Armed Services Committee (subcommittee on military readiness) on the topic of industrial wind projects interfering with military operations. The House members were grilling senior personnel on this issue, and their answers (and evasiveness) was startling. (The bold parts are my emphasis of the topic at hand. There is also some minor editing to keep the transcript on point. My comments are in italics, between the {} brackets, following a statement.)

[These are the parties who are quoted below:

Rep Solomon Ortiz (D): Subcommittee on Readiness Chairman, Texas

Rep Randy Forbes (R): Virginia, Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Readiness  Rep Michael Conaway (R): Texas

Dr. Dorothy Robyn (an economist): Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, Installations and Environment, U.S. Department of Defense

Maj. Gen. Lawrence Stutzriem: USAF, Director, Plans, Policy and Strategy, North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command

Nancy B Kalinowski: Vice President, System Operations Services, Air Traffic Organization, Federal Aviation Administration]

[Note there was also a wind energy lobbyist from AWEA who testified — but no independent energy expert was there.]

(Actual page 5, but labelled as 1) Rep Ortiz. I am committed to renewable energy and the benefit it provides to the environment, the economy, and our country.

{This statement in support of wind energy comes directly from lobbyist propaganda — and is NOT supported by real Science. In other words, there is NO scientific assessment that has concluded that wind energy provides any NET benefit to our environment, or economy, or country. Yet this is the mistaken understanding of the chairman of this important committee. With such misunderstandings by key legislators, it is little wonder how counterproductive energy policies subsequently get passed — e.g. the wind PTC.}

However, this effort should not be pursued at the expense of military readiness… There are a variety of factors that contribute to the growth of wind energy, and one of the most prominent being Federal subsidies and stimulus money available to the industry… But what stipulations are attached to the funding to protect military readiness? Of course, the interest in readiness is that we can be fully prepared in case we need to defend ourselves and our allies.

{These comments are much more reasonable. Rep Ortiz makes an excellent point about the fact that there are NO military-protecting stipulations attached to the extraordinarily generous federal funding of wind energy. Why doesn’t he follow up on this huge oversight by proposing a fix? For some reason he does not — so as of today, it is still a problem.}

With the rise of wind energy, the industry continues to seek attractive development locations, some of which are too close to military installations. An unfortunate example of this type of development is in my district: at the Naval Air Station in Kingsville, Texas. As one can see in this slide showing on the screen, wind farms will significantly impair the ability of the Kingsville radar system to monitor and detect small aircraft like those flown at the Naval Air Station.

{The online version of the referenced page is not very clear. However, it may be part of the detailed presentation made by the Kingsville CO, who was extremely concerned about numerous adverse effects that industrial wind energy had on his military facility. And the problem is a LOT more than just detecting “small aircraft” (e.g. see Radar section)!}

This IS a serious problem! Is there anything that we can do to preserve the military capabilities threatened by wind development at military bases? In the short term, no.

{It’s good that the chairman recognizes this as a problem. However, for him not to propose any solutions is a major lost opportunity. For example he could put forward a resolution advocating military-protective stipulations on all federal wind energy subsidies. Why not?}

Am I concerned? You bet, I am concerned. The Department of Defense has increasingly expressed reservations and objections to potential wind energy projects based on military readiness issues — specifically identifying conflicts with radars and existing training routes. Each application for wind farm development is reviewed by the Federal Aviation Administration, in coordination with the Department of Defense.

{The issue here is that the government was promoting wind energy, but was not prepared to properly regulate it. The FAA has no involvement with military readiness, so the FAA never provided any meaningful oversight for preserving the mission and operational performance of our military bases. Further, even when huge industrial turbines have been in the direct flight path of established low-level critical mission military routes, the FAA has not denied a permit to a wind project (see the Pantego wind project—Seymour Johnson AFB case).}

However, I am deeply concerned about the lack of a coordinated, well-established review process within the Department of Defense to provide timely input for these green energy projects. I want to conclude my opening statement by restating my commitment to pursue all energy solutions in partnership with the Administration but not, again, at the expense of military readiness.

{More good sounding words by the chairman. These are a basis for the establishment of the DoD Wind Siting Clearinghouse, which occurred after this meeting. Unfortunately that in no way solved the real issue here (see section below on the DoD Wind Energy Review). A hint as to why this is more show than substance, is that when Republicans ask very important questions (next pages) that the Chairman does not chime in to support them.}

(Actual page 7, but labelled as 3) Rep FORBES. This is a topic that we are all particularly excited about, especially the possibility of harnessing wind energy, because the chairman and I both agree that we have an abundance of excess wind right here in the Capitol that we would love to use in a more beneficial manner.

{Political humor!}

Dr. ROBYN. {She made an opening statement basically saying that there were three radar categories [I count five: also Nexrad and ROTHR], and that the solution to the wind energy problem is for all the US radars to be replaced. She does not acknowledge that this would cost taxpayers billions of dollars, as she has clearly bought into the illusion that wind energy is a societal benefit. Additionally she provides zero scientific proof that any of this enormous expenditure would actually solve the interference problems. Even today, five years later, there is no such proof. Her basic position: keep spending more taxpayer money, because there will be an answer someday… At no point does she examine the Net societal impact of wind energy.}

(Actual page 19, but labelled as 15) Rep FORBES. In all of the witnesses’ opinions, do you think that there would ever be a time that we should accept a decrease in military readiness to support national energy initiatives?

Dr. ROBYN. I think it is a mistake to frame the problem that way…

{She continues with an evasive answer that does not answer the important question posed. Basically she makes the unsupported claim that we will not have to make a choice between military readiness and renewable energy. Even if she is right, that did not stop her from giving a clear answer to the question asked, i.e.: “absolutely no!”— yet she did not do that.}

Rep FORBES. And, Doctor, I then take back my statement where I agreed with you, because I now disagree with you. While it may be our goal that the two do not conflict, the real world we live in differs from that theory. The real world sometimes does come down to a conflict, either because of timing, or money… General, do you feel —

Dr. ROBYN. (interrupting…) {She tries to elaborate on her prior non-responsive answer. However, she again does not directly answer the important fundamental question asked.}

Rep FORBES. It is not a white hat, black hat—these are not trick questions. It is a fair response to say we hope to have both. It is a fair response to say we need both. It is a fair response to say we hope we don’t have to choose between them. But none of those are my question. The question —and I think it is a fair question—is the Department willing to accept decreased military readiness to support national energy initiatives?

Gen STUTZRIEM.{He made a long evasive response that also did not answer the question. He basically asserted that the military would not go along with any reduction in military readiness that was “unacceptable”— but did not define what was “unacceptable.”}

{The general also claimed that he hoped that technology would solve all such conflicts. He provided no scientific basis for that “feel good” posture. Again, even if he was right on both counts, that did not prevent him from giving an answer to the question asked, i.e.: “absolutely no!”— yet he studiously avoided doing that.}

Rep FORBES. {Rep Forbes clearly picked up on the evasiveness of these answers. Fortunately he is not dissuaded.} General, I am sure you are articulating a lot better than I am understanding it, so I don’t want to push you further than you can go. Sometimes we have to just come down to hard and fast decisions. Is it your opinion that we should ever accept a decrease in military readiness to support national energy initiatives?

Gen STUTZRIEM. Once again, that is a policy question for the Department. But we will always, from the operational level, mitigate that risk in some way.

{Why is compromising military readiness a “policy” decision? Actually the legislator’s question was: “what is DoD’s policy on this?” yet the general again did not answer that. This “mitigate” term is also deceptive as “mitigate” means reduce, not solve.}

Rep FORBES. {Rep Forbes knows when he is dealing with people who are avoiding the facts. To his credit he politely persists.} General, I will try this one more time. We are told by the Secretary of Defense, that when we have witnesses we can ask your personal opinion and we can rely on your personal opinion. Again, it is not a trick question. It is something we need to know what your personal opinion is: should we ever accept a decrease in our military readiness to support national energy initiatives?

Gen STUTZRIEM. In my opinion, homeland defense is our top priority, our mission priority, and that should take precedence.

{Clearly the General knew that it would be bad politics to publicly acknowledge the realty here — i.e. that energy initiatives actually are currently a priority over military readiness. As a result, he finally (reluctantly) made a politically correct statement. If it was as cut-and- dried as he makes out in the end, why did he not say so the first time he was asked — or the second? The proof is in the pudding, so closely examine the two cases in this Report.}

Rep FORBES. Thank you.

{Note that throughout this Congressional testimony that industrial wind projects were called “wind farms.” This is an example how lobbyists have successfully corrupted our energy conversation. The term “wind farm” is a deceptive but effective marketing manipulation that conveys a much more benign picture than what actually exists.}

— See more of this illuminating Congressional Testimony which follows —


Part Four, last in a series

Abstract

Most US citizens are of the opinion that our military is held in the highest regard by our national representatives, and given preferential treatment.

Most citizens assume that our leaders would never allow our national security to be undermined by political ideology — particularly after the 9-11 tragedy.

Most US citizens likewise believe that we would never sacrifice the lives of dedicated military personnel, to promote an unscientific political scheme.

They would be wrong on all counts.

More Congressional Testimony

Below is an additional fascinating discussion in the US House Armed Services committee testimony on the topic of industrial wind projects interfering with military operations, not included above.

These exchanges were where Congressional members tried to pin down the renewable energy supporters as to the actual cost differences between renewable and conventional energies to DoD. Even though they were asking an economist, their questions went unanswered.

(As above, the bold parts are my emphasis. There is also some minor editing to keep the transcript on point. My comments are in italics, between {} brackets, following a statement.) Continue the testimony on page 23 (labelled as 19):

Rep CONAWAY. Dr. Robyn, are there barriers for the developer to say: “in order to move this project forward, I will pay to have the radar upgraded (or whatever mitigation costs are needed) to eliminate the problem that the military is having?”

Dr. ROBYN. I think the biggest barrier is that most people haven’t thought about it that way. We are not used to thinking of operating that way. There may be a technical/legal barrier to us accepting money from a developer…

{Wow! No one has thought of the idea of making a wind developer pay for the costs that the military incurs in their behalf… No, it’d just a lot easier to pass it onto the taxpayer!}

Rep. CONAWAY. This is not a foreign concept, as it’s something that a business would do all the time. Wind developers should look at that concept. Obviously if the radars are doing the job that we want them to do, and a developer comes in and wants to interfere with that, it shouldn’t be the responsibility of taxpayers to upgrade the existing facility to meet the need of that developer.

{This recommendation is immanently sensible: have the developer pay for all mitigation costs incurred for the benefit of his extremely profitable investment. For some reason the Committee Chairman does not jump in to endorse this constructive idea.}

Rep. CONAWAY. It would be helpful for us as policymakers next year to know  what the Department is spending as a result of all this emphasis on renewables, and a lot of related stuff that they don’t have to do.

Dr. ROBYN. I would disagree. I was with you up until that.

Rep. CONAWAY. So you would trade wind power for body armor?

Dr. ROBYN. We very much look at this. I believe it was General Mattis during the Iraq War who said, ‘‘Please release us from the tether of fuel.’’ And that prompted a Defense Science Board report which said we are losing lives and we are spending enormous amounts of money to get fuel to forward operating bases. And the cost that we pay for fuel is the tip of the iceberg. The real cost is—and our soft underbelly — the logistics tail to get that fuel to forward operating bases. Insofar as we can use renewable in forward operating bases, which we are working on, we can reduce that. And in domestic bases, which I oversee, we are vulnerable to disruption of the commercial electricity grid and renewable energy combined with energy efficiency, smart micro-grids, can increase mission assurance.

{In every war there has been a problem in getting materials and supplies (e.g. fuel) to the front lines. Wanting to be “released of from the tether of fuel” is nothing new. Further, no scientific assessment has concluded that switching to more renewables will be a net military gain. Most indications are we would just be swapping one problem for another — and solving nothing. And what’s the cost of this expensive experiment? That’s the question repeatedly asked here, and the respondents are either unwilling or unable to answer.}

Rep. CONAWAY. So renewable energy comes in front of other requirements that DOD has? … I have had four-stars tell me that they have to hide all these extra costs, so they can look green. They also say that renewable energy is not mission-critical to what they are doing. You are not going to power an MRAP with a battery or wind.

{Note this important hint: that high level military field personnel are privately saying that this renewables business is not anywhere near as important as a few politicians are trying to imply it is. It’s really more about their political agenda, than helping the military.}

Dr. ROBYN. You are not going to power an MRAP, but renewables have an important…

Rep. CONAWAY. You tell me that the fuel in the battlefield is what you are worried about, and I am just saying that is not what we are talking about.

Dr. ROBYN. A significant amount of the fuel that is transported to forward operating bases is used to power generators, to heat and cool tents, to operate…

Rep. CONAWAY. So, we are going to build wind turbines in Iraq?

{Excellent comment! How absurd would that be?}

Dr. ROBYN. I don’t know if it will be wind, but we are absolutely spending…

Rep. CONAWAY. More money on energy than we would otherwise have to spend.

{Another insightful comment. We are wasting money on a political ideology.}

Dr. ROBYN. We have been running a 270-megawatt geothermal plant in China Lake for 20-some years.

{Note the misdirection here. Dr. Robyn was advocating renewables to reduce “fuel tethering” in battlefield conditions. What does that have to do with that geothermal facility?}

Rep. CONAWAY. And it costs more to do that than to buy the energy from the grid.

Dr. ROBYN. We disagree here. I think it will cost the Department money up front to develop renewables. It will cost the country money up front. Part of that is because we don’t put a price on carbon. We do need to…

{She atomically disagrees — yet acknowledges that she does not have the economics that have been repeatedly asked for. If that’s so, how can she disagree? She also does reveal the real objective: make conventional fuels more expensive (i.e. with a carbon tax), so that renewables will then have the illusion of being cost competitive.}

Rep. CONAWAY. Is the science settled on putting a price on carbon?

Dr. ROBYN. I think that is an economic question. There are huge externalities from carbon emissions which aren’t captured in the price of fossil fuels. But there is the QDR (the Quadrennial Defense Review), which says that our dependence on fossil fuels, is a national security issue and is an issue for domestic installations.

Renewables are not the silver bullet, but they have an important place.

{This response is a common tactic that renewable evangelists use, when cornered: they say that renewables (e.g. wind energy) are not the answer, but just PART of the answer. That begs the questions: how much of the answer are they (1%?), and at what cost? The later part is what the Committee members were trying to extract from the testifying economist.}

Rep. CONAWAY. But will you get me the difference in costs that the Department incurs between what they could have done normally versus…

Rep. ORTIZ. {chairman interrupts Rep Conaway} I don’t think we’re going to have time for that, because we have got other members. We will probably have a second round of questions and we will come back to you then.

—————————–

This exchange about economics then did continue later in the hearing, with Rep Forbes resuming the questions about cost (actual page 32 labelled as page 28):

Rep FORBES. What Rep. Conaway was asking seems like a simple question. You said you disagreed with him. He is not asking about which theory we pick, or where we are going. He is saying, shouldn’t the American people be entitled to know the cost differential between buying energy one way, and by putting something in a bill that is going to cost us more, so that we can determine how many planes, ships, MRAPS, etc we have to give up to do that? When our soldiers are on the battlefield, theories don’t matter to them. It comes down to: do they have armor, do they have bullets and do they have planes. As the chairman said, we are having a realistic discussion now that we’ve got to eliminate many of those real things, because there is not enough money.

And so the question I come back to is: why is it an unreasonable question to ask you to explain the cost differential between doing it one way, and doing it another way?

Dr. ROBYN. Sir, we were—certainly. Can I give you a plan for how we will achieve our goal set by the Congress, codified by the Congress, of achieving 25 percent renewable energy consumption by our installations by 2025? That is a goal given to us by the Congress.

Rep FORBES. Doctor, I am not saying that Congress is doing everything right. I don’t think that is what Mr. Conaway and I are saying. I’m sorry but you still are giving us goals. We understand that we need goals. That is okay to have. But what is the…

Dr. ROBYN. No, sir. That is a goal that you gave us.

Rep FORBES. All Rep Conaway was asking is: Can you tell us the cost differential between getting energy one way and getting it with all of the requirements that we have put in the defense authorization bill? And I don’t think we are going to get that figure — any more than we got a shipbuilding plan last year. But I am just simply saying as humbly as I can. I think it is a reasonable request. However, all we get back is a repeating of what the administration’s goals are.

Dr. ROBYN. No. I am happy to do that if I can show you long-term savings — if I can also quantify the benefits to energy independence… Part of the Defense Science  Board’s 2008 recommendation was an increased use of renewables… And they made the point that we don’t quantify the benefits to mission assurance of this increased energy security. That is a benefit that goes unmeasured.

{Dr. Robyn seems to heavily rely on this relatively dated (2008) report. The fact is that five

(5) recommendations were made in that report, and NONE OF THEM SAID THAT THE MILITARY SHOULD MAKE A MAJOR CONVERSION TO RENEWABLES.

The most applicable recommendation to this Hearing was #4: “Invest in energy efficient and alternative energy technologies to a level commensurate with their operational and financial value.” However, when the Committee members ask questions about costs and value, no answers are available…}

Rep FORBES. I think my good friend from Texas would be delighted for you to put down any other costs you would want to identify, or any other projections, as long as you provide the committee with the cost of the two differentials. After that, argue any way you want to go. That is okay. That is fair. It is just sometimes that we feel like all we get is a restatement of goals — and nobody ever comes back with the detailed costs. That is what Rep Conaway was asking, because at some point in time, at some point in time, this chairman is going to have to make a decision between planes, bullets and other things. It helps us to know if we can get those financial details.

{Rep Forbes is saying that if it is the administration’s position that there are other legitimate costs (externalities) regarding the military’s use of conventional fuels, and there are other financial benefits for the military to use renewables, then they should all be put on the table for careful scrutiny.

Of course that is NOT what happens! Instead, additional conventional fuel costs (e.g. asthma, energy independence) and renewable energy benefits are both simply made up, based on faux science.

Further, conventional fuels benefits or renewable energy liabilities are never accurately calculated. This type of obfuscation should never be acceptable, as it is really about promoting an unscientific agenda — in this case at the expense of military readiness and our national security.}

Rep. ORTIZ. Thank you … In the beginning, when we saw the first wind turbines the concern was for wildlife. Do you remember that? The birds. Now, it has moved to another level, military readiness. We are very concerned.

{Yes we “remember” that industrial wind energy was an enormous environmental threat — as it still is. As explained here, industrial wind energy projects are a major ecosystem disrupter. The National Science Foundation states that such ecosystem losses are on a par with the consequences of Climate Change! The World Health Organization (WHO) has concluded that such ecosystem losses “can have significant direct human health impact” and “indirectly affect livelihoods and income.” That’s in addition to property value losses, direct health impact on nearby citizens, substantial agricultural losses (due to bat deaths), etc.

{Although this is a military committee, the indisputable fact is that industrial wind energy implementation has extraordinary liabilities on any host community. Independent experts have concluded that an industrial wind project will be a NET economic liability and a NET environmental liability. (See WiseEnergy.org for details.)

{Does it make sense to add a reduction in military readiness to the liability list??}

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