Posts tagged “national security”
I’ve been writing, researching, and talking a good bit about Arctic issues recently. You can see my piece in Alaska Dispatch, where I claim that the U.S. is “Failing to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Arctic” and I will have forthcoming pieces in the Georgetown Journal of Security Studies and elsewhere.
What comes across is a great disparity in intentions, ambition, and resources devoted to the region between Russia versus the United States. This is most apparent in the status accorded to the security forces.
The US Navy, when asked what they plan to do about an opening Arctic invariably respond by saying “why should we do anything” or “why would we build a new Navy for a new ocean?” They may have a point – there’s not that much up there to protect, and the international regime governing the Arctic is strong: conflict appears highly unlikely.
Increased Domestic Oil & Gas Production, Declining Demand and Shrinking Imports
The American energy revolution is starting to come into focus. Technological breakthroughs in shale gas and tight oil production are poised to make the United States — not Saudi Arabia — the world’s largest producer of crude oil as early as the end of the decade, according to the latest World Energy Outlook published by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA’s analysis found that the United States could even be a net exporter of oil by 2035, a position the United States has not been in since the 1940s, when it had one of the world’s few developed oil industries.
At the same time, U.S. demand for crude oil is in decline and its crude oil imports are shrinking. Higher fuel efficiency standards in U.S. vehicles have contributed largely to depressed demand, with U.S. oil imports falling from 56 percent of total consumption to 46 percent between 2008 and the end of 2011, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. By 2035, the United States could be importing less than 2 million barrels a day, down from more than 8 million barrels today, according to the IEA. (Read More: Top 15 Sources for U.S. Crude Oil Imports in 2011)
In a word – yes.
Last week the President issued an order requiring Ralls Corporation, which is owned by Chinese nationals (and is closely associated with the Chinese wind turbine manufacturer Sany), to cease development activities and divest its interest in four wind farms in Oregon. The order was issued based on recommendations from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). CFIUS is responsible for reviewing foreign investments in the U.S. to ensure that foreign ownership of U.S. assets will not present a national security risk.
President Barack Obama has blocked a Chinese company from owning interests in four northern Oregon wind farms, citing national security risks given their close proximity to a United States military base where unmanned drones and electronic-warfare planes are tested.
The decision marks the first time in more than 22 years that an American president has vetoed a foreign business deal in the interest of American security. While every American president has the power to void foreign transactions involving United States-based businesses under the Defense Production Act, the ability has not been exercised since President George H.W. Bush preempted the sale of Mamco Manufacturing to a Chinese-owned agency in 1990. (See more: Wind Power Layoffs Abound as Industry Threatened by Tax Credit Expiration)
Scale of the Global Oil Market
The RAND corporation recently released a report “Promoting International Energy Security” for the U.S. Air Force that, for the most part, contained the conventional wisdom about oil prices and energy security: in a global marketplace, there is little that one buyer can do to affect prices. The report then went on to state the importance of the US military in maintaining international trade routes and supporting energy infrastructure security around the world. On the whole, it was an anodyne report from a government contractor to its client that generally would have quietly been filed away.
However, the report did have one section that dove directly into a simmering area of contention: the Department of Defense’s investment in a domestic biofuels industry. Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have rejected the Department of Defense’s plans to purchase biofuels and to directly invest in domestic biofuels producers. The Senate will likely consider an amendment on the floor to attempt to reinstate the program in July. The specialist media quickly reported the controversial provisions, saying “Renewables no fix for U.S. military fuel woes” (Reuters) and “Alt fuels won’t solve military energy problems” (Greenwire).
I am pleased and excited to join the team at Consumer Energy Report. I have been an avid reader of the analysis here and I am looking forward to contributing to the important policy discussions that Andrew, Robert and others routinely engage in on energy, climate change and security policy.
I wanted to take the opportunity with this inaugural post to introduce myself and provide you — the reader — a brief sense of where I am coming from and what you can expect to see here on Choke Points.
First a little about myself. I am a national security and foreign policy analyst in Washington, working largely at the crossroads of science, technology and national security policy. My interests in technology and security policy has given me an opportunity to work on a broad range of issues — from cyber security to the impact of climate change on the U.S. Armed Forces. For the most part, though, my particular focus has been on natural resources and security (energy and climate change in particular), first at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and now at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a non-partisan national security and defense policy think tank.
As I have been researching and writing about Arctic energy development recently, there’s one important – and easy – policy prescription that often comes up: joining the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). As I mentioned in my article, “Energy Development in the Arctic: Threats and Opportunities” the USGS estimates that the Arctic region has 22% of the world’s undiscovered energy resources – and 84% of those resources are expected to occur offshore (so 18.5% of the undiscovered resources are on or under the Arctic seabed).
Earlier this week, the Washington Times wrote a particularly angry and irrational editorial arguing against the military planning for climate change. The proximate reason for their editorial was Secretary Panetta’s speech on May 2 at the Environmental Defense Fund in which he said “Climate Change has a Dramatic Impact on Our National Security.” ASP blogged about the speech last week.
Normally, I would not take the time to respond to the Washington Times editorial, as they are notorious for being at the far edge of the spectrum on this issue, and far away from any scientific mainstream, but some of the assertions are so scurrilous that they require a response. They simply cannot stand without being challenged.
They write that the national-security threat of climate change “is a fight America can’t afford.” However, as I have discussed before, a changing climate does pose real threats to America’s national security. Rising sea levels, changing precipitation patterns, increasingly dangerous weather disasters, and melting polar ice caps could destabilize countries, and the U.S. military must be prepared to react to the conflicts that could result from these changes. There is a robust academic argument about the precise linkages between climate and conflict, but that is not where this editorial goes.
Instead, there are some serious assertions in the editorial that must be responded to because they are so far from reality. I will precisely go through them.