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The National Security Implications Of Renewable Power

Some retired admirals and generals are arguing that the switch to renewable energy is a national security issue. (Pixabay)
Some retired admirals and generals are arguing that the switch to renewable energy is a national security issue. (Pixabay)
June 6, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Fifteen retired admirals and generals have signed a report arguing that the U.S. should protect its national security by taking the lead in advanced and renewable energy.

Retired Vice Admiral and vice-chairman of the CNA's Military Advisory Board, Lee Gunn, says the timing's just a coincidence - days after President Trump said he wants to leave the Paris climate accord. But Gunn says it is vital for U.S. economic, diplomatic and military standing that we take a leading role in the transition to wind and solar power.

He says if we don't, we risk letting other countries erode our superpower status.

"China is in the first position, the European Union as a block is in second position and the U.S. has surrendered leadership," he says. "I don't think that means for a moment that we have to stay there."

When announcing his decision, one of President Trump's central arguments was that the Paris agreement weakens U.S. employment and economic strength. But 1,100 companies, including energy giants such as ExxonMobil, have publicly stated that they favor staying in the accord.

The report argues that as advanced energy expands in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and other areas, the nation exporting the technology enjoys much greater influence, as well as more job growth at home.

By comparison, retired Navy captain and lead author Leo Goff says fossil-fuel exporters have a leverage to bind consuming countries that haven't made the switch.

"International tethers that may not be in our best interest," he says. "Russia is positioning itself to fill a lot of those needs, as is Iran and others that don't necessarily hold our values."

As Gunn puts it, we can do a lot for ourselves by embracing the newer energy technologies.

"And it's important that we lead rather than follow," he adds. "When you're riding in a car, you haven't got much control. But when you're driving, you can determine the direction and the speed."

The CNA Military Advisory Board (MAB) is an advisory group with CNA, a research and analysis nonprofit organization. It's releasing the report Tuesday.

Active-duty military officers tend to shy away from taking political positions, but sometimes they will let retired officers speak for them.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV