WASHINGTON — The Pentagon would be required to set up a pilot program for transitioning entire non-tactical vehicle fleets at certain installations to electric power, under legislation advanced by the House.
The bipartisan bill, which the Readiness panel on the House Armed Services Committee approved by voice vote Thursday, would require the secretary of each military department to select an installation for the pilot and submit a plan to make all non-tactical vehicles at that location electric powered by 2025.
“The Readiness mark addresses vulnerabilities in installation resiliency and energy resiliency, both in response to climate change and in ensuring that our forces can accomplish their missions even in the event of power disruption, either natural or man-made,” panel chair Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., said ahead of the vote. “We build on previous efforts to address climate change with a particular focus on mitigating the department’s contributions and spurring innovation in clean energy.”
The U.S. Department of Defense is the world’s largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels. It started incorporating climate analysis into its wargaming last year after identifying the risks posed by climate change in its 2018 National Defense Strategy.
The Pentagon released its climate strategy in October. The Army plans to install a microgrid on all its installations by 2035 and field fully electric tactical vehicles by 2050.
To that end, the readiness bill directs each service to prioritize installations that already have charging stations when launching the pilot program.
The full House Armed Services Committee is expected to advance the Readiness bill as part of its annual defense authorization legislation this month.
Some Democrats have pushed to codify into law a more ambitious emissions reductions agenda for the Defense Department. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., introduced the Depend on Domestic (DOD) Clean Energy Act last month to set Pentagon targets for reducing emissions while providing greater funding flexibility to achieve those goals.
Duckworth told Defense News that she would like to see her legislation included in the Senate version of the defense bill, which the Armed Services Committee is set to mark up next week. Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., introduced identical legislation in the House.
That bill would require the Defense Department make at least 40% of its electricity generation carbon pollution free by 2024 and increase that goal to 100% by 2030. It would also set a target of reducing emissions from Defense Department installations by 20% by 2024 with an ultimate goal of net-zero emissions by 2045.
The measure would also push the Defense Department to continue investing in alternatively fueled vehicles by setting a 100% zero emission target for non-tactical vehicle acquisitions by 2035 and the same goal for tactical vehicles by 2045.
Bryant Harris is the Congress reporter for Defense News. He has covered the intersection of U.S. foreign policy and national security in Washington since 2014. He previously wrote for Foreign Policy, Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English and IPS News.