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Retired military chiefs: Time to shift from oil

An advisory group of retired generals and admirals said in a report issued Monday that reducing America's reliance on oil and addressing climate change are critical for future national security.
/ Source: The Associated Press

An advisory group of retired generals and admirals argue in a new report that reducing America's reliance on oil and addressing climate change are critical for future national security.

The report, presented Monday to members of Congress and the Pentagon, said that energy security and efforts to reduce the risks of climate change should be included in the nation's national security and military planning.

The retired, high-ranking military officers concluded that overreliance on oil — not just foreign oil — leaves the country vulnerable to unstable and hostile countries. They said future oil markets will be marked by limited supplies and increasing demand, posing a national security risk.

"U.S. dependence on oil weakens international leverage, undermines foreign policy objectives and entangles America with unstable or hostile regimes," said the report, written by the Military Advisory Board of CNA, a nonprofit research organization. The board is made up of some retired senior officers of all branches of the military.

The report was released as the House began work on a sweeping climate bill in its Energy and Commerce Committee. The bill would put limits on greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels, and give incentives for development of noncarbon energy sources.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that he strongly agrees "with the stark conclusions" made by the advisory group, including that the competition for oil in the coming years is likely to precipitate conflicts.

"Energy security is national security," said Lugar.

The report identified a number of risks created by America's current energy policies and practices.

The concerns extend beyond America's dependence on foreign oil, the report says, because no matter what the source, America's dependence on oil "undermines economic stability, which is critical to national security."

Also, the report called for modernizing the nation's electric power system. The country's "fragile domestic electricity grid makes our domestic military installations and their critical infrastructure unnecessarily vulnerable to incident, whether deliberate or accidental," said the report.

The report raised alarm about three converging concerns: A future global oil market shaped by limited supplies and increasing demand, rising fossil fuel prices caused by regulating climate-changing emissions, and the impacts of climate change on global insecurity.

"Confronting these converging risks is critical to ensuring America's secure energy future," said the report.

Retired Air Force Gen. Charles F. Wald, the advisory board's chairman, said in a statement, "We cannot turn a blind eye to the dangerous realities of our energy situation."

"There is a relationship between the major challenges we're facing. Energy security, economics, climate change, these things are connected," added retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan, a former U.S. Army chief of staff.