Environmental and energy (E2) issues have been politically ladened topics throughout their existence in the public’s consciousness. In the 1970s, E2-concerned citizens were stereotypically depicted as hippies building solar farms on communes, although OPEC’s (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Country’s) actions and the oil embargo of 1973 shot fuel dependency into the mainstream. Nevertheless, the country took little sustained notice after a brief period of heightened concern.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Marine Corps’ E2 was largely focused on compliance with existing regulations, prevention of oil spills and hazardous material incidents, and stewardship of threatened or endangered species. However, “green fever” transitioned E2 from an emotional peacenik mantra—first into the marketer’s delight, and more recently, into genuine national concern.
The government, for its part, has brought in another important consideration particularly emphasized within the last few years—E2 as a national security linchpin.1 Whether you stand behind global warming or “climategate” matters little; we as Marines should understand that these issues are not Republican or Democrat and not a mere debate between Al Gore and Sean Hannity.2 E2 issues are now at the forefront of everything we do, validated by a preponderance of Federal directives and related military mandates.
Both the Secretary of the Navy (SecNav) and Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC) have made their positions clear via broad and innovative guidance.3 From the CMC’s Marine Energy Assessment Team and Expeditionary Energy Office to Secretary Raymond Mabus’ “Great Green Fleet,”4 the Navy-Marine Team has never had stronger green leadership.
Nevertheless, the Marine Corps has yet to fully seize the moment and take truly bold and daring steps. Most every Service and successful organization has embraced the green revolution in some form, but the Marine Corps has work remaining if it desires to lead the charge in typical Marine fashion. With support to our combat deployed forces remaining the number one priority, it is understandable that expeditionary energy is the focus. But if installations are truly the fifth element of the MAGTF,5 this emphasis must be broadened to include warfighters’ stateside homes. There are many avenues in the E2 arena to accomplish this; here are just a few recommendations.
Back Policy With Resources
Much green verbiage today is delivered in neat, round goals (“reduce XXX 20 percent by 2020,” etc.) bathed in cliché ecoterms like “alternative,” “renewable,” “clean,” and “sustainable.”6 Yet without resources to support those goals, this is but a promulgation of the ends but not the ways or means. To help correct this problem the Marine Corps should lead endeavors for joint force planning, identify potentially synergetic projects, lobby for substantial E2-targeted resources,7 and develop more Marine-specific, Corps-wide guidance to secure future mission capabilities.
Continue Multifaceted Approach, but Standardize Best Practices
Many significant E2 initiatives exist across the Corps, yet most remain a patchwork of uncoupled and often competing efforts cobbled together by energetic commanders and creative action officers. We need a centralized, web-based hub to share best practices, voice concerns, and foster additional E2 learning,8 and all bases and stations should establish dedicated, robust energy websites.9 Although installations should retain a degree of flexibility to suit local nuances of region, they should capitalize on successful programs by replication through directives and with resources from the top; where good ideas exist, adopt these best practices Service-wide.10 Pursue bold, long-term programs but also easy quick-kills to show progress and produce a gradual paradigm shift.11
Even so, be leery of excessive “innovations” that substitute unnecessary inconvenience (like trayless mess halls) in place of education and impractical rationing that ignores realities of operational requirements, mission expansion, and population growth.12 Focus on educating Marines and families to make proper choices.
For better linkage with our Operating Forces, infuse the E2 sector across the fifth element with uniformed Marines. Just as developing computer/Internet technology and operations necessitated the creation of new computer-related MOSs/billets in the 1990s, so too should we now lean forward and inject professionally trained active duty officers into the E2 field (not just civilian logisticians).13
Higher level guidance on E2 issues is (overly) abundant,14 yet the education piece—(key to drive a cultural shift and often the most effective method for positive change) is severely lacking. Our resident and nonresident professional military education curricula lack any modern E2 instruction.15 The majority of actionable and educational initiatives are left to the local commander’s own resourcefulness. In addition to attendance at E2 conferences16 and liaison between the new Marine Corps/Navy Energy Offices, the Marine Corps should collaborate with our Navy leadership to develop high-quality educational programs, available on a variety of levels (from MarineNet to The Basic School to the war colleges to the Naval Postgraduate School), to ensure that our next generation of Marines and sailors is poised to lead the way forward in E2 fields, including renewable, alternative and, yes, nuclear energy technologies.
Consider Nuclear Power
On 16 March 1979, The China Syndrome opened in theaters across the country, depicting a fictitious story about a reporter witnessing an accident at the Ventanna nuclear plant outside Los Angeles and the subsequent evil plot to suppress the truth. Twelve days later the Three Mile Island partial core meltdown in Pennsylvania helped propel The China Syndrome to theatrical success and permanently scarred the American psyche. The nail in the nuclear energy coffin was the nuclear disaster 7 years later at Chernobyl, in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.17 But despite these stains on the nuclear power industry, the time has never been better for the Marine Corps (and Navy) to dive in than now. Here’s why.
First, the political climate, though still tenuous, is shifting to favorable, with the change coming from the top down. During his 27 January 2010 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama echoed themes from his campaign trail by clearly voicing his intention to include nuclear power in American’s playbook of energy security options.18 Similarly, as the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu has articulated similar sentiments, declaring that “President Obama and I are committed to restarting the nuclear industry in the United States.”19 Many other political leaders and policymakers indeed support a true “nuclear renaissance,”20 and the growing momentum stands a chance to bury the ghosts of Chernobyl once and for all.
Second, with our well-replicated but limited pursuit of the standard renewable energies,21 we’re putting all energy eggs in one basket, a vessel unlikely to hold a sufficient load for success. Currently pursued renewable energy sources do have limitations.22 More importantly, with military installations relying almost exclusively on external sources for energy, and those sources largely unpredictable, unsecured, and reliant on foreign-based oil,23 if energy security is truly a national security issue, then nuclear power should be considered. Solar demonstrations at Miramar and Barstow are not enough.
Third, nuclear technology today has advanced well beyond the days of Three Mile Island. Specifically, small modular reactors (SMRs) offer great potential to safely and effectively provide energy island/net zero capabilities to Marine Corps and Navy installations across the country.24
SMRs have relatively low plant cost, can replace aging fossil plants, and do not emit greenhouse gasses. Some are as small as a “hot tub” and can be stored underground, dramatically increasing safety and security from terrorist threats.25 Encouragingly, in fiscal year 2010 (FY10) the DoE allocated $0 to the U.S. SMR Program; in FY11, they’ve requested $38.9 million. This funding is to support two main activities—public/private partnerships to advance SMR designs and research and development and demonstrations. According to the DoE’s website, one of the planned program accomplishments for FY11 is to “collaborate with the Department of Defense (DoD) . . . to assess the feasibility of SMR designs for energy resources at DoD installations.”26 The Marine Corps should vigorously seek the opportunity to be a DoD entity providing one platform for this feasibility assessment.27
Fourth, SMR technology offers the Marine Corps another unique means to lead from the front—not just of the other Services but also of the Nation, and even the world.28 This potential Pete Ellis moment should be seized. There are simple steps we could take,29 and others stand ready to lead if we are not.30 But the temptation to “wait and see” and “let the others do it; then we’ll adopt it” mentality is not always best. Energy security demands boldness, not timidity.
To be fair, nuclear technology comes with challenges, of course, and with questions that have been kicked around for decades. An April 1990 Popular Science article asked, “Next Generation Nuclear Reactors—Dare we build them?” and included some of the same verbiage heard in similar discussions today.31 Compliance with National Environment Policy Act requirements necessitates lengthy and detailed preaction analyses, critical community support must be earned, and disposal challenges remain. Still, none of these hurdles are insurmountable.32
Yet despite the advances in safety, security, and efficiency in recent years, nuclear in the energy equation remains the new “n-word” for most military circles. And despite the fact that the FY10 National Defense Authorization Act called on the DoD to “conduct a study [of] the feasibility of nuclear plants on military installations,” the Office of the Secretary of Defense has yet to fund the study.33
Fifth, the cumbersome, bureaucratic certification process of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), often enough to scare away potential entrepreneurs and investors, is not necessarily a roadblock to success. The NRC is “responsible for licensing and regulating the operation of commercial nuclear power plants in the United States.” Military installations offer unique platforms that could likely bypass an extended certification process. With established expertise and a long safety record in nuclear reactor certification, operations, training, and maintenance, the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program comprises the civilian and military personnel who:
. . . design, build, operate, maintain, and manage the nuclear-powered ships and the many facilities that support the U.S. nuclear-powered naval fleet.”34
Bypassing the NRC and initiating SMR experimentation under ADM Hyman Rickover’s legacy umbrella of naval reactors could shorten the process to a reasonable level for Marine and naval installations.35
Finally, Marine Corps-SMR technology opens the pathway for related endeavors and synergetic undertakings. The Army has several smart and influential individuals poised to partner in nuclear energy endeavors, and our naval brethren enjoy a long history of nuclear reactor expertise. Partnerships and enhanced use leases to support SMR deployments should be leveraged.36 As the collective military expertise in SMR technology grows, additional capabilities, such as expeditionary and vehicular power sources, could be explored. And related technologies, such as hybrid/electric vehicle power storage and recharging facilities and water desalination plants, could collocate with nuclear plants on installations to both use the energy.37
Desalination is another evolving technology that many avoid discussing, mainly because it is still a very expensive and immature technology with problems such as high energy consumption, brine disposal, and potential for harm to marine life. But once again, fear of the challenges should not prevent expanded exploration in this area. Worldwide, there are over 13,000 desalination plants, collectively producing more than 12 billion gallons of water each day, many of them in the Middle East, but the trend is spreading to the United States.38
Camp Pendleton surfaced in 2009 as a potential desalination plant location, but the official Marine Corps stance has been hesitant rather than an eager courtship of the opportunity.39 Indeed, many major Marine bases are in coastal areas and could benefit from SMR/desalination cogeneration plants. Potential future Marine sites like Guam could undeniably benefit from such advancements,40 and as the number of reverse osmosis sites increases, the cost per unit will decrease.
The CMC has repeatedly explained how the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory looked 25 years into the future and believes that, by then, water will be as precious a commodity as oil, so the time to start preparing for that dire situation is now.41
Overall, the Navy-Marine Team has made huge strides in the E2 fields, yet much remains to be accomplished. E2 is more than compact fluorescent lightbulbs and protection of sea turtles and tern nests. The warfighting mission will always come first, but combat mission accomplishment and E2 goals are not mutually exclusive; the first can be strengthened through the latter. When considering the Marine Corps’ Service Campaign Plan 2009–2015,42 we should remember that one of the CMC’s seven main focus areas in his planning guidance is to “Posture the Marine Corps for the Future.”
A decade ago, some discussed the “Revolution in Military Affairs.” Now is the time to be bold and daring, to recognize that the Marine Corps is not yet green enough. Now is the time to embark on a revolution in environmental and energy affairs. Our natural, and national, security depends on it.43
“What the Navy and Marine Corps are doing now is great, but I am here to encourage you and us to go farther—to dream what might be rather than to simply accept what is. Bold steps are in our nature as Americans and what make us a great nation; no one has ever gotten anything big done by being timid.”
—Raymond Mabus, SecNav44
1. Multiple articles and research studies over the last several years have identified climate change and E2 considerations as national security issues. Examples include the 2006 “Long War” Quadrennial Defense Review; the 2007 report by the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) Military Advisory Board, “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change”; the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act directive for DoD to consider climate change’s effects on all of its “facilities, capabilities, and missions”; a December 2008 exercise at National Defense University that examined a simulated flood in Bangladesh and the resulting refugee crisis and conflict; the May 2009 CNA’s paper, “Powering America’s Defense: Energy and the Risks to National Security”; The New York Times’ “Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security,” 9 August 2009 and “The Climate and National Security,” 18 August 2009; and the February 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, which coined the phrase describing climate change factors as “accelerants of instability.”
2. The President declared on 16 February 2010, during a speech in Maryland:
On an issue that affects our economy, our security, and the future of our planet, we can’t continue to be mired in the same stale debates between left and right, between environmentalists and entrepreneurs.
3. The 2009 Marine Corps Commander’s Guide to Environmental Management states that the Corps is “committed to protecting the environment and conserving our natural and cultural resources.” In the Marine Corps’ Facilities Energy and Water Management Program Campaign Plan—Ten by ‘10 (Top 10 Things to Do by 2010 to Reduce USMC Energy Risks), then-CMC Gen James T. Conway states:
. . . any interruption in [electricity, fuel, and water] resources puts our installations and training areas at risk. Energy conservation, therefore, becomes an issue of combat readiness.
Of the Marine Corps’ first Energy Summit, held in August 2009, DoD Energy Blog correspondent, Dan Nolan, stated that although:
. . . every service is addressing energy issues through forums . . . I have never seen a Service Chief devote an entire day to an open event like this. If this does not make clear the Marine Corps’s absolute commitment to energy security, nothing does. Once again . . . the Marine Corps leads the way.
4. SecNav Ray Mabus delivered the Navy’s new energy plans via his October 2009 Naval Energy—A Strategic Approach and “The Way Ahead for Navy Energy” in the 26 October 2009 Rhumb Lines. Both documents identify the Department of the Navy’s “emerging energy strategy . . . centered on energy security, energy efficiency and environmental stewardship.” The “Great Green Fleet” is to be composed of “nuclear ships, surface combatants with hybrid electric power systems using biofuel, and aircraft flying only on biofuels,” with a target sail date no later than 2016.
5. “Vision: Bases and Stations are the fifth element of the MAGTF,” Marine corps Installations 2020, accessed at http://hqinet001.hqmc.usmc.mil/i&L/v2/MC%20Installations%202020/files/I2..., Headquarters Marine Corps, Department of the Navy, 28 April 2001.
6. Multiple definitions exist for green terms, with no single accepted standard. According to Executive Order 13514, “renewable energy” is energy:
. . . produced by solar, wind, biomass, landfill gas, ocean (including tidal, wave, current, and thermal), geothermal, municipal solid waste, or new hydroelectric generation capacity achieved from increased efficiency or additions of new capacity at an existing hydroelectric project.
“Sustainability” and “sustainable” mean:
. . . to create and maintain conditions, under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.
Merriam-Webster defines sustainable as “of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged,” and dictionary.com defines “clean energy” as “energy, as electricity or nuclear power, that does not pollute the atmosphere when used, as opposed to coal and oil, that do,” available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/clean+energy.
7. In 2009 the DoE issued 16 new “super” energy-saving performance contracts with a “combined maximum potential value of $80 billion,” Ralph Vartabedian, “Energy-Savings Project Leaves Army in The Cold,” Los Angeles Times, 30 October 2009, via The Early Bird at http://ebird.osd.mil/ebfiles/e2009103713159.html, accessed 30 October 2009. The DoD increased investment in energy initiatives from $440 million in FY06 to approximately $1.2 billion in FY09, and received $300 million in American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (Stimulus Bill) funds, yet the Marine Corps received only a paltry $200,000 for just three renewable energy projects, last amount via Amy McCullough and Dan Lamothe, “Saving Energy,” Marine Corps Times, 31 August 2009, p. 3.
8. There are some good sites, such as the DoD Energy Blog at http://dodenergy.blogspot.com, but more is needed, particularly from Marines for Marines.
9. Marine Corps Air Station Yuma is one good example. See http://www.yuma.usmc.mil/services/energy/default.htm.
10. Examples range from seemingly minor measures like ensuring that all trash receptacles have recycling bins next to them (Commanding Officer (CO), Marine Corps Base (MCB) Hawaii, policy) to recycling wet mess material at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC), Twentynine Palms mess halls, to the abundance of photovoltaic, geothermal, wind, landfill gas, and similar projects across our installations. However, smart E2 projects have not always been as successful, such as attempts to ban plastic bags at commissaries (initiated by CO, MCB Hawaii, and attempted by others, such as MCAGCC, unsuccessfully to date because of Defense Commissary Agency resistance). But where environmental stewardship has merit, even if more costly when enacted—in this case, about 100 billion single-use plastic bags are used each year, with plastic bags accounting for the majority of about 52 metric tons of trash collected annually in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (Ashlee Dusenas, “Plastic Plight,” The Honolulu Advertiser, 3 August 2009, p. D–1) —E2 responsibility should receive favorable weight in the consideration equation against pure economics and convenience.
11. One example is off-the-shelf technology for near-term smart meters. Smart grids and smart buildings offer great promise and will be much-needed long-term additions to our installations, but they cannot appear overnight. In the meantime, consider compromises, such as relatively inexpensive off-the-shelf products. One example in this instance is the “Blue Line PowerCost Monitor,” accessed at http://www.bluelineinnovations.com, which retails for less than $100 and provides users near-realtime measurement of energy use in dollars and cents, potentially saving between “6 percent and 18 percent” on electric bills. Technology like this in every Marine Corps base house and facility could save money not only through operational implementation, but also by educating our personnel and advancing that elusive cultural change.
12. Many installations will experience substantial growth over the next decade, and new technology often brings additional mission responsibilities, infrastructure, and personnel (e.g., Marine Aviation Training Support Squadron, MITSC, MAGTF Integrated Systems Training Center, etc.). Beyond our active duty numbers, Marines are increasingly married and with children, meaning we can expect the number of dependents to grow, and our planet is predicted to grow “from 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion people between now and 2050,” from Thomas L. Friedman, “Global Weirding Is Here,” The New York Times, 17 February 2010, Op-Ed section. The point is that long-term plans should be based on practical calculations and not always reflexively “reduce X by X” without consideration to said growth. The reduction bullets sound better, yes, but are often dishonest or, at minimum, impractical.
13. To integrate energy considerations across the broad spectrum of Marine Corps operations requires comprehensive active duty leadership, expertise, bottom-up buy-in, and expanded education. The Air Force, for its part, seems to understand this and its new 2010 Energy Plan includes its vision to “Make Energy a Consideration in All [They] Do,” available at http://www.safie.hq.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-091208-027.pdf.
14. Recent Federal directives include, but by no means are limited to Executive Order 13423, Strengthening Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management, 24 January 2007, and Executive Order 13514, Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance, 5 October 2009; the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007; the American Clean Energy Leadership Act/American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (Waxman-Markey Bill, pending); and DoD Instruction 4170.11, Installation Energy Management, 11 December 2009. Also, all of the Services have unveiled their own energy strategic plans within the last year, with the Marine Corps falling under the wing of the Navy and Naval Energy—A Strategic Approach. Understandable perhaps, as much Navy guidance lays the foundation for how we operate, but E2 is one field on the verge of unimaginable positive developments, and resting on blue laurels now is a mistake. The Marine Corps should consider crafting its own specific overarching energy strategy.
15. Naval Postgraduate School offers degrees in Homeland Defense and Security and Civil-Military Relations; MarineNet courses include dozens of old-school environmental hazardous material and corrosion-control lessons (“Boat, Dock, and Ramp Cleaning,” “Diesel Power Generation,” “Used Oil and Antifreeze,” etc.), and our staff colleges have ample new classes on culture and counterinsurgency, but modern energy issues are nowhere to be found.
16. There are energy-related conferences every month—sometimes seemingly every week. The Navy and Marine Corps hosted forums in 2009. Offerings in 2010 included the Marcus Evans 5th Annual Military Energy Alternatives, Washington, DC, 19 to 21 January; the American Institute of Engineers’ Military Energy and Alternative Fuels Conference, San Diego, CA, 17 to 18 March; the U.S. Energy Information Administration and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies’ 2010 Energy Conference, Washington, DC, 6 to 7 April; and the Defense Energy Support Center’s 2010 Worldwide Energy Conference, National Harbor, MD, 10 to 12 May. Although conference attendance can pose a burden, Headquarters Marine Corps should strive to provide qualified representation at forums such as these to not only learn about developing technologies and best practices, but to make sure that the Marine Corps’ investment and interests in the E2 fields are well known.
17. Despite the perception, nuclear power is not only clean and reliable, but “no member of the public has been killed or injured from radiation during the nearly fifty years that commercial nuclear plants have been operating in the U.S.,” accessed at http://rps.psu.edu/probing/nuclearpower.html.
18. Obama, President Barack, “But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this county”, State of the Union address, 27 January 2010. The President also announced, on 16 February 2010, Federal loan guarantees for the construction of the first nuclear power plants (two in Georgia) in the United States in nearly three decades, and his FY11 budget triples loan guarantees for nuclear power plants to over $54 billion.
19. Secretary Chu’s comments at the American Nuclear Society Meeting, 16 November 2009, via “Investing in Energy Security and Technical Leadership” by Dr. Pete Lyons, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy, DoE, 1 February 2010), posted on the DoE website, available at http://www.ne.doe.gov. Secretary Chu also posted the following comments on his Facebook page on 22 February 2010 (link available on same DoE website):
Wind and solar now provide about 3 percent of our electricity, compared to 20 percent for nuclear . . . . It is likely that our energy demand will continue to rise . . . [projections show] an almost 20 percent increase in overall energy demand and over 30 percent increase in electricity demand over the next 25 years under current laws. If we want to make a serious dent in carbon dioxide emissions—not to mention having cleaner air and cleaner water—then nuclear power has to be on the table. Also remember that wind and solar are intermittent energy sources . . . but nuclear power can provide large amounts of carbon-free power that is always available.
20. A few of the prominent leaders enthusiastically endorsing nuclear power include U.S. Representative Jim Marshall (GA), U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (TN), U.S. Senator James Webb (VA), U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (SC), U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman (CT), and Hawaii State Senator Fred Hemmings (a champion of SMRs in particular, he’s lobbied senior leaders in Washington and has drafted legislation to support dramatic efforts to make his state energy independent—a state that leads the Nation in oil dependence (approximately 90 percent, most from Indonesian oil), yet requires a two-thirds majority vote in legislature for approval of potential civil nuclear projects). These leaders and many others have voiced substantial, bipartisan public backing of nuclear energy exploration, which may be found on the Internet or by contacting their offices. Even the cofounder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, has become a devout nuclear advocate, see his “Going Nuclear—A Green Makes the Case,” The Washington Post, 16 April 2006.
21. According to Executive Order 13514, “renewable energy” is energy:
. . . produced by solar, wind, biomass, landfill gas, ocean (including tidal, wave, current, and thermal), geothermal, municipal solid waste, or new hydroelectric generation capacity achieved from increased efficiency or additions of new capacity at an existing hydroelectric project.
22. The wind and sun are intermittent (the sun does not always shine; the wind does not always blow), and at best will not be able to provide more than 20 to 30 percent of our electricity, after many years. In 2009 wind contributed only 2 percent of total generation, and solar gave us less than 0.1 percent of total U.S electrical production. Wind farms cause conflicts with low-flying aircraft, surveillance radars, and sensitive land areas; don’t solve the storage problem; and often come with significant demands for new transmission lines. Solar power causes some overlapping concerns and also suffers from vulnerability of photovoltaic and solar technology systems. Ocean thermal energy conversion raises fears of restricted fishing access and dangers to sea life, and “because the technology is still being developed,” wave power costs “five or six times as much as wind power,” see Tracy Loew, “Oregon is first U.S. site for a wave-power farm,” USA Today, 16 February 2010. Most every other form of emerging, renewable energy has some restrictions or challenges, including potential conflict with local area utility providers and unassured grid interface.
23. The U.S. consumes approximately one-quarter of the world’s oil production and depends on oil for more than 96 percent of its transportation needs but controls only 3 percent of the world’s supply (multiple sources). The DoD is the largest single energy consumer not only in the country, but the world (multiple sources). Some have calculated that a $10 increase in the price of a barrel of oil is estimated to cost the U.S. military approximately $1.3 billion. Then-Senator Obama said:
We have become dependent on and vulnerable to people who are enemies, who know they can use oil as a weapon against us. Energy security has become the most important national security issue . . . . [al-Qaeda recognizes this and has said that oil] ‘is the umbilical cord and lifeline of the crusader community.’
“Good Energy Policy Is the Key to America’s Energy Future,” adopted from a speech at the Governor’s Ethanol Coalition, Washington, DC, 28 February 2006, and published in Foreign Oil Dependence, edited by Susan C. Hunnicutt, Greenhaven Press, Farmington Hills, MI, 2008.
24. SMRs are defined by the DOE as:
. . . nuclear power plants that are smaller in size (300 MWe or less) than current generation base load plants (1.000 MWe or higher). These smaller, compact designs are factory-fabricated reactors that can be transported by truck or rail to a nuclear power site. . . ‘modular’ . . . refers to a single reactor that can be grouped with other modules to form a larger nuclear power plant . . . [they] require limited on-site preparation . . . [and will be] ‘plug and play.’
From the U.S. DoE’s Office of Nuclear Energy budget request for FY11, announced 1 February 2010, available at http://www.ne.doe.gov/pdfFiles/factSheets/2010_SMR_Factsheet.pdf.
25. Several companies are aggressively pursuing SMR technology and deployment. A few worth examining are Hyperion (available at www.hyperionpowergeneration.com), NuScale Power (available at http://www.nuscalepower.com/), Toshiba 4S (available at http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/advanced/4s.html), the Babcock & Wilcox Company (available at http://www.babcock.com/products/modular_nuclear/), and General Atomics (available at www.ga.com). For information about General Atomic’s plans to develop an SMR “Energy Multiplier Module” or EM2 that runs on spent fuel, Generation IV technology, see http://www.energycentral.com/generationstorage/nuclear/news/news_print.c....
Also see http://www.nuclearfoundation.org/documents/FNS_9-25-09_DickBlack_PPT.pdf or
http://www.iaea.org/NuclearPower/SMR/ for starters; there is ample SMR reading material on the Internet.
26. Ibid., DoE, available at http://www.ne.doe.gov/pdfFiles/factSheets/2010_SMR_Factsheet.pdf.
27. Senator Barack Obama said in Newton, IA on 30 December 2007 that he was “going to launch an Apollo Project, a Manhattan Project, where we invest billions of dollars in new energy ideas and sources.” Marine Corps SMR facilities could be those projects.
28. Global competition in the growing nuclear power market represents a real threat to our national economy and national security. The President declared on 16 February 2010:
Our competitors are racing to create jobs and command growing energy industries. And nuclear energy is no exception . . . .To meet our growing energy needs and prevent the worst consequences of climate change, we need to increase our supply of nuclear power . . . our competitors are racing to create jobs and command growing energy industries. And nuclear energy is no exception. Japan and France have long invested heavily in this industry. Meanwhile, there are 56 nuclear reactors under construction around the world: 21 in China alone; six in South Korea; five in India. And the commitment of these countries is not just generating the jobs in those plants; it’s generating demand for expertise and new technologies . . . .Whether it’s nuclear energy, or solar or wind energy, if we fail to invest in the technologies of tomorrow, then we’re going to be importing those technologies instead of exporting them. We will fall behind. Jobs will be produced overseas, instead of here in the United States of America.
This statement helps illustrate how Marine Corps investment in nuclear energy not only helps our Service but also our country. Moreover, China—a major competitor—is embarking on its “Green Leap Forward,” plans to fully participate in the “Green Revolution,” and is “engaged in the world’s most rapid expansion of nuclear power . . . expected to build some 50 new nuclear reactors by 2020; the rest of the world combined might build 15.” See Thomas Friedman, “Who’s Sleeping Now?” The New York Times, 10 January 20 10.
29. For starters, talk about nuclear power/SMRs rather than continuing to shy away from even considering it. Appoint officers and energy managers to research its potential. Develop timelines and plan of action and milestones for detailed analyses, develop department-wide goals, and pursue research and development funding. Offer up Marine Corps installations as beta sites and look to the future for where the Marine Corps is going (Guam?). At a minimum, don’t exclude the possibilities of nuclear power on installations from discussions in forums, such as the Marine Corps Gazette and Proceedings, and at conferences and in strategic planning meetings. Fortune favors the bold.
30. See “Nuclear Power Plants on Military Installations—‘A Think Piece,’” by Mr. William A. Macon, Jr., U.S. Army Reactor Program Manager, 28 October 2009, available via the DoD Energy Blog/nuclear at https://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0B83Q27_xggOTMDUwYTdlMjctNDgxMC00NzA... “Nuclear Energy for Military Applications—the ‘other’ energy source,” by COL Paul E. Roege, USA(Ret), February 2008; and a number of other seminal works available on the Internet or via numerous research forums. The Army previously managed a Nuclear Power Program from 1954–77, accessed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Army_Nuclear_Power_Program, and offers viable partnership opportunities if the Marine Corps (and Navy) elects to devote manpower, time, and resources to them.
31. Fisher, Arthur, “Next Generation Nuclear Reactors—Dare We Build Them?” Popular Science, 1 April 1990, pp. 68–77. The article also included the still-used phrase “nuclear renaissance” (asking “is it realistic to expect a nuclear renaissance in this country?”) and had quotes on all sides of the discussion, including: “I am convinced that this new generation of passively safe, smaller, simple, and modular nuclear reactors can provide an economic, environmentally sound source of energy for the next century,” see Paul E. Gray, President of MIT, and “[the nuclear industry] is not in the best of health. In the past several years, there have been many predictions that the industry is in fact dying, and that it is just a matter of time before we throw on the last shovel of dirt,” see Kenneth M. Carr, Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Despite the similarities in tone of the conversations between then and now, it should be emphasized that the technologies in question are apples and oranges, resembling each other perhaps only in that they’re fission, not fusion (which for many is the holy grail of energy generation and remains even farther down the road).
32. Fear of environmental group protests and/or community perceptions is not a valid justification for lack of experimentation; we must work to earn the trust that is necessary for such advances to go forward.
33. FY10 National Defense Authorization Act; H.R. 2647 signed by the President on 28 October 2009 Section 2845, “Study on Development of Nuclear Power Plants on Military Installations,” directs the Secretary of Defense to:
. . . conduct a study to assess the feasibility of developing nuclear power plants on military installations, summarize options available to the Department to enter into public-private partnerships or other transactions for the construction and operation of the nuclear power plants; estimate the potential cost per kilowatt-hour and life-cycle cost savings to the Department; consider the potential energy security advantages of generating electricity on military installations through the use of nuclear power plants . . . .
and numerous other requirements, including examining safety implications, additional infrastructure needed, and potential environmental liabilities for DoD. Reportedly, U.S. Representative Jim Marshall was responsible for having this text inserted in the National Defense Authorization Act, and he told the Macon Telegraph that:
. . . it’s important to the military that they have clean, efficient, secure energy . . .and then the nice thing about military installations is that they can help address one of the concerns about nuclear energy, and that is security.
Accessed at http://nuclearstreet.com/blogs/nuclear_power_news/archive/2009/07/15/rep....
34.The Naval Nuclear Propulsion ((NNPP)“Naval Reactors”) program responsibilities are specified in Executive Order 12344 (1 February 1982) and Public Laws 98–525 (19 October 1984) and 106–65 (5 October 1999). Research and development/support abs include government owned/contractor operated Bettis and Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories, with Bechtel Plant Machinery, Inc. maintaining prime contractor responsibilities and training conducted at Nuclear Field “A” and Nuclear Power Schools in Charleston, SC, information available at http://nnsa.energy.gov/naval_reactors. Executive Order 12344 explains that the NNPP is an “integrated program carried out by two organizational units, one in the Department of Energy (DOE) and the other in the Department of the Navy.” The DoE’s National Nuclear Security Administration was established by Congress in 2000 as a:
. . . separately organized agency within the U.S. DOE, [and] is responsible for management and security of the nation’s nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, and naval reactor programs.
Available at http://nnsa.energy.gov/about/index.htm.
35. Putting nuclear power plants on military installations represents relatively uncharted territory; however, the advantages and possible huge payoffs merit investigation.
36. Areva, a multinational energy company based in France, partnered with Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding to construct a $363 million nuclear reactors manufacturing facility in Newport News, RI. State and local governments promised the venture (Areva Newport News LLC) over $23 million in incentives. Partnerships such as this should be watched and learned from.
37. Potentially, these cogeneration sites could also serve as “showcase facilities,” as described in DoD Instruction 4170.11, Installation Energy Management, 11 December 2009, p. 11:
. . . to “demonstrate promising best commercial practices and the use of innovative techniques to improve energy and water efficiency, and explained under the DOE’s Federal Energy Management Program.
Available at http://www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/services/awards_fedshowcase.html.
38. Kranhold, Kathryn, “Water, Water, Everywhere . . . ,” Wall Street Journal, 17 January 2008, available at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120053698876396483.html. The United Arab Emirates and Israel maintain giant desalination plants, and Australia opened a $313 million plant in November 2006. Tampa Bay opened one in December 2007, and a $320 million plant for Carlsbad, CA, is expected to begin operating in 2012.
39. The Camp Pendleton desalination plant could cost between $1.7 and $1.9 billion, see Sabrina Shankman, “California Gives Desalination Plants a Fresh Look,” Wall Street Journal, 10 July 2009. Proposed to be located at the mouth of the Santa Margarita River, the Pendleton plant is being pushed by the San Diego County Water Authority and could be operational by 2018. A base spokesman commented in July 2009 saying:
Camp Pendleton supports the idea of a desalination facility on the base in concept, provided that it would not interfere with Camp Pendleton’s ability to conduct training or otherwise accomplish its military mission.
He added that the Marines would want to examine additional studies before giving the official thumbs-up, Brad Graves, “$1b-plus desalination plant proposed for Camp Pendleton: facility could spit out 100m gallons of freshwater daily,” San Diego Business Journal, 20 July 2009, accessed at http://www.entrepreneur.com/tradejournals/article/205745223.html. Rather than perceive projects like this as potential annoyances and interference with the “military mission,” Marine planners should actively pursue such opportunities, understanding that capabilities like desalination plants provide vital resources to allow us to accomplish our future mission.
40. Guam’s poor infrastructure is no secret, as is its substandard health and environmental conditions. Rapid growth there over the next several years will exacerbate several problems, including drinking water supply; desalination might provide one solution.
41. Today only 2.6 percent of all water on Earth is fresh water—water with less than .5 parts per 1,000 dissolved salts—and much is not easily available. Over a billion people worldwide, about one-sixth of everyone on Earth, do not have enough safe drinking water, see Carol Inskipp, Conserving Our Fresh Water, Smart Apple Media, China, 2007. As the population increases, so too will these statistics become more alarming.
42. See MarAdmin 0003/10, FULL TITLE, DATE.
43. The Center for a New American Security first offered the phrase “natural security.”
44. Remarks by the Honorable Ray Mabus, SecNav, Naval Energy Forum, Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, McLean, VA, 14 October 2009, accessed at