The U.S. military uses a lot of energy, and it wants to cut back — to save money, but more importantly, to save lives. The Department of Defense is the single largest consumer of energy in the United States, spending $15 billion alone last year, 75 percent of which was fuel for operations.

In an interview with EnergyNOW, Sharon Burke, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy Plans and Programs, says that fuel isn’t necessarily being used wisely.

Not only are soldiers guarding supply lines vulnerable to attack, she says, spending money on oil can indirectly benefit regimes that oppose us.

“No matter where you buy your fuel … it’s priced on a global market, so every gallon you buy is a dollar in Iran’s pocket.”

And while Burke doesn’t say it directly, she hints that questions about ongoing supply may be factoring into military strategy as well.

“We haven’t to date looked at our energy supply for our military forces as anything other than an assumption. It’s just, ‘it’ll be there when we need it.’ So as a result, we use more than we need to.”

While the Defense Department’s effort to use less fossil fuels will result in lives and money saved, it will also mean big business for cleantech companies, including several in the Midwest. Tomorrow, Midwest Energy News correspondent Frank Jossi brings you a look at the local impact of the military’s green movement.

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.

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