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ASP Commends EPA Clean Power Plant Rules in Public Comments

ASP Commends EPA Clean Power Plant Rules in Public Comments

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Throughout the week of July 28, the EPA is holding hearings on the Clean Power Plan Proposed Rule. This is a landmark rule that could alter the future trajectory of the climate, while also significantly impacting how the U.S. produces electricity around the country. It is therefore appropriate that the EPA has opened up the rule for public comment to any citizen. You can comment yourself, the directions are here.

Representatives of the American Security Project’s Consensus for American Security are presenting their views on the clean energy rule to the EPA in hearings across the country.

ASP commends the EPA for its effort to address climate change.

ASP understands that we cannot wait to address looming threats. For too long, America’s leaders in Congress have failed to address the challenges of climate change. This failure of leadership means that we are behind in addressing this challenge.

Our armed forces are already acting to address the very real threats posed by climate change. They must be ready to conduct missions in a rapidly changing operational environment, and they must manage the new risks posed by climate change.

Lieutenant General John Castellaw USMC (Ret.) is testifying in Atlanta, Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.) is testifying in Washington, Lt Colonel Hal Bidlack, Ph.D. (USAF, Ret.) is testifying in Denver, and Lt. Jonathan Breed, USN (Ret.) is testifying in Pittsburgh.

Below is the full text of Gen. Cheney’s testimony.

Testimony: Climate Change and the Threat to National Security

 Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Clean Power Plan” proposed rule. I am here today to commend the EPA for its effort to address climate change. I am not a regulatory expert, so I will not comment on the specifics of the rule, but I do support the EPA for its ambition and goals.

My three decades of service in the Marine Corps taught me that we cannot wait to address looming threats.

For too long, America’s leaders in Congress have failed to address the challenges of climate change. This failure of leadership means that we are behind in addressing this challenge.

Our armed forces are already acting to address the very real threats posed by climate change. They must be ready to conduct missions in a rapidly changing operational environment, and they must manage the new risks posed by climate change.

The military increasingly understands the true nature of this threat. This is not because the military has not suddenly determined that it wants to save the environment – it is because they see that climate change presents clear danger to our national security.

In the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) the DOD it notes:

“Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large……threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”

The military are faced with three distinct challenges.

First, climate change is a global “threat multiplier.” That means it will make already existing threats like political instability, ethnic tensions, food insecurity, or poverty worse and more dangerous.

Specific threats to security vary around the world depending on both the climate and on the society. For example, in places like South Asia, sea level rise, diminishing fresh water resources, and increasingly dangerous storms are combining with ethnic, religious, and economic stresses in a region of the world with highly militarized borders and too many nuclear weapons. There will be massive migration of people in this region if climate change continues, leading people to move into areas where they could come into conflict with people already living there.

The effects of climate change around the world will cause resources like food, water, and energy to become more scarce as the effects of climate change worsen; states will seek to secure resources for their own populations at the expense of neighbors. While conflict is not inevitable, it is possible.

This is not just the future we are talking about. Extreme weather events are already demanding a military response. Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines with maximum sustained winds estimated at 195 mph – the highest in recorded history. Over 13,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines from the USS George Washington’s battle group responded – and they saved lives.

Second, climate change will effect homeland security – and that is a growing military mission. In 2012, Active Duty and National Guard troops responded to New York and New Jersey after Sandy. Defense Support to Civil Authority is a growing mission for our military – where our active duty troops provide logistical aid, humanitarian relief, and law enforcement support to civilian authorities. These type of operations are growing as extreme weather grows across the country.

You don’t have to go to the Arctic to see climate change occurring — it is happening here in the U.S. And the issue is not about hugging trees or saving the Sage Grouse. Climate change threatens our country’s agriculture, water supply, and coastal infrastructure – the bedrocks of our economy.

Third, climate change is a threat to our military bases at home and around the world. The United States military manages property in all 50 states, 7 U.S. territories and 40 foreign countries, comprising almost 300,000 individual buildings around the globe, valued at over $600 billion dollars. Rising sea levels already are causing millions of dollars worthier of damage to the Navy’s coastal installations. But they’re not alone: wildfires have caused evacuations this year at the Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton, while the Army has seen extreme rain events wash-out areas of the National Training Center at Fort Irwin. The military is adapting to these changes, but at a cost to taxpayers.

For those who question the science, I would say that reducing greenhouse gases while implementing measures to adapt to the effects of climate change is basic risk management. Military planners routinely operate under uncertainty and make decisions based on incomplete information.  In 2001, Dick Cheney said that if there is only a 1% chance of a terrorist acquiring weapons of mass destruction, we have to act. Today, when we have over 99% of scientific papers telling us that human emissions are causing climate change, why is it that we dismiss them?

The EPA’s proposed rule is an important step forward in addressing the challenges of climate change, and I commend them for their efforts.

If we fail in addressing climate change we know that our military will have to respond to more disasters, terrorists will have more recruits to draw from, and the world will see more conflicts over increasingly scarce resources, and ordinary Americans will pay the price.

 

For more on ASP’s climate security; see:

1. Ten Key Facts – Climate Change

2. FACT SHEET: Climate Change’s Threats to the United States – Lessons from the Netherlands

3. Protecting the Homeland – The Rising Costs of Inaction on Climate Change

4. Climate Security Report

5. Climate Change we either Pay Now, or Pay Later

 

2 Comments

  1. […] Public Comments on EPA Clean Power Plant Rules by retired military officers (representatives of the American Security Project’s Consensus for American Security) July 28, 2014 Including comments by Lieutenant General John Castellaw USMC (Ret.), Brigadier General Stephen A. Cheney, USMC (Ret.), Lt Colonel Hal Bidlack, Ph.D. (USAF, Ret.), Lt. Jonathan Breed, USN (Ret.) Details and summary at the ASP website here […]

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