On Earth Day, um, hooray for the military?

Plug In America’supporters tend to come in two flavors — environmentalists and people who are concerned about national security (though many overlap). On Earth Day 2010, both have reason to celebrate a new report, “Reenergizing America’s Defense: How the Armed Forces Are Stepping Forward To Combat Climate Change and Improve the U.S. Energy Posture.”

Flag Beverly & Pack The Pew Charitable Trusts sponsored a team of energy and security experts to produce the report, which notes ways that the U.S. military is trying to liberate itself from fossil fuels. One strategy — the Army plans to use 4,000 electric vehicles (mainly neighborhood electric vehicles, or NEVs) over the next 3 years, which will reduce the use of liquid fossil fuels by more than 11 million gallons and avoid 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Imagine the benefits if the Army also started switching all of its vehicles to electric or plug-in hybrid cars and trucks. They needn’t limit themselves to low-speed NEVs when there are a variety of truck, bus and car options becoming available. (See Plug In America’s “Tracker” page for a list.)

Yes, I know that we greenies could argue that the overall environmental damage done by the military far outweighs what they’re doing to get off of fossil fuels, but let’s hold the criticism for a day and look on the bright side — the fact that the military wants to “combat” global warming and plans to go solar wherever it can is real progress. We’ve got common ground. And getting us off of oil definitely will improve our national security.

Planet flag Beverly & PackThis isn’t the first time the military has paid attention to these issues. As I was researching my book, “Plug-in Hybrids: The Cars That Will Recharge America,” I found a number of studies funded by the military that concluded the military should move to renewable energy as quickly as possible. Solar photovoltaic panels on an area the same size as what’s being used for U.S. military bases (30 million acres) could generate power equivalent to the U.S. annual electricity and fuels consumption, according to a 2005 article by Michael Totten in Solar Today Magazine. Now, that would be defending America!

So this Earth Day, I say hooray for the U.S. of A and its campaign for renewables and plug-in electric vehicles. If you’re one of our security-hawk supporters, please share a copy of the report with your friends and colleagues, and let them know about Plug In America and the resources we can offer in the drive to go green.

— Sherry Boschert (@sherryboschert on Twitter)

(Flag images by flickr user Beverly & Pack under Creative Commons.)

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