In a high-profile speech focusing on environmental threats to national security, Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta cited ESTCP’s Installation Energy Test Bed initiative as a key component in DoD’s efforts to build a more sustainable and secure energy future for the nation.

Speaking at an Environmental Defense Fund reception in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, Secretary Panetta said it is vital to the security of the United States for DoD to address environmental challenges such as climate change and energy efficiency.

“Our mission at the Department is to secure this nation against threats to our homeland and to our people,” Secretary Panetta said. “In the 21st century, the reality is that there are environmental threats which constitute threats to our national security. For example, the area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security:  rising sea levels, to severe droughts, to the melting of the polar caps, to more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”

Secretary Panetta said DoD is committed to taking on environmental challenges as part of its national security mission. “We are working to be a leader and an innovator in environmental stewardship, energy efficiency and energy security,” he said.

In addition to the anticipated impacts of climate change, he said, another environmental threat to national security is the Pentagon’s ever-increasing – and unsustainable – energy costs. DoD is one of the largest energy consumers in the world. This year alone, Secretary Panetta said, DoD is facing a budget shortfall of more than $3 billion because of higher than expected fuel costs.

“I have more than a deep interest in more sustainable and efficient energy options,” he said.

To that end, Secretary Panetta noted, DoD is funding numerous projects using and demonstrating more efficient energy technologies, including the ESTCP Installation Energy Test Bed initiative. “In the next fiscal year, we are investing more than $1 billion in more efficient aircraft and aircraft engines; hybrid electric drives for ships; improved generators and microgrids for combat bases; and combat vehicle energy efficiency programs,” Secretary Panetta said. “We are investing another $1 billion to make our installations here at home more energy efficient, and we are using them as a test bed to demonstrate next-generation energy technologies.”

The ESTCP Installation Energy Test Bed initiative was established in 2009 to demonstrate new energy technologies—distributed generation, microgrids, advanced building controls, and energy efficiency—in a real-world, integrated building environment on military installations. DoD is responsible for more than 300,000 structures and 2.2 billion square feet of space on its installations.

Through the Installation Energy Test Bed initiative and other innovative DoD efforts on clean energy and the environment, Secretary Panetta said, “I believe we are making the country more secure and protecting our national resources.”

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