Amendments to House NDAA (H.R. 4909)

Heritage Action will key vote the following amendment(s) to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (H.R. 4909):

Key Vote Alert: “YES” on Buck DoD Energy Reform Amendment (#245)

The House will vote on an amendment by Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) 100% to H.R. 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017. The amendment would prohibit funding for the renewable energy mandate at DOD and prohibit the Secretary of Defense from purchasing alternative energy unless it is equivalent to conventional energy in terms of cost and capability.

The Obama Administration has steadily introduced their radical energy agenda into the Department of Defense at the detriment of the American taxpayer and military readiness. Our military cannot afford to be taking resources away from its most pressing needs, which is exactly what these DOD energy gambits end up doing.

Recently, Heritage defense analysts Rachel Zissimos & Brian Slattery detailed the determinants of some of these renewable energy policies in a research paper on DOD Solar installations:

“…conventional energy sources are employed intermittently as needed to fill gaps left by solar power, but they do so without a decrease in their fixed operations and maintenance costs, which leads to a higher cost per kWH and increasing energy costs across the board. In other words, reliable sources of energy are run less efficiently for the sole purpose of meeting arbitrary political mandates to accommodate more renewable energy…The Administration justifies the excessive costs associated with solar power in the name of energy security, claiming that diversification of energy sources will make the DOD more resilient. In reality, voltage fluctuations that are inherent to solar power can put existing energy infrastructure at risk, resulting in poor power quality and reliability, additional costs, and even safety concerns.”

Heritage is not alone in highlighting these challenges. In January of this year the GAO wrote a report on DOD energy infrastructure that noted similar concerns:

“Military service officials we spoke with generally stated that it is difficult to integrate intermittent sources of renewable energy (e.g., solar and wind power) into existing infrastructure. For example, in Hawaii, Navy and Army officials stated that because the amounts of intermittent renewable energy can vary significantly, it can cause fluctuations in power quality such as voltage and frequency on small or isolated electricity systems, which can damage equipment connected to them.”

The DOD should pursue renewable or alternative energy options when it makes economic sense and when it advances our national security — not simply because it fits a political agenda. In a time with increased strain on the military budget, we cannot afford to waste precious military resources on ideological pet projects. The Buck amendment makes several common sense reforms to tackle this encroachment and mission creep, including:

  • Restricting funding to energy sources that are competitive with conventional sources in terms of cost;
  • Adding a capability requirement to ensure that an energy source that is competitive in terms of cost, also has an equivalent energy density and utility for the military;
  • Eliminating renewable energy consumption mandates by restricting funding designated for this purpose.

Reporting data on alternative energy sources and initiatives has been inconsistent, thereby complicating cost and capabilities assessments. By clarifying the components of cost-competitiveness and prioritizing funding for the energy sources that provide the greatest utility to the DOD, this amendment will minimize waste and prioritize critical defense objectives.

Heritage Action supports the Buck Amendment and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

Heritage Action would have key voted the following amendments had they been made in order:

  • YES on Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) 85% Freedom in Footwear Amendment (#167)
  • NO on Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) 29% Anti-Religious Freedom Amendment (#318)
  • YES on Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) 93% Anti-DACA Amendment (#9)
  • NO on Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY) 39% Anti-Religious Freedom Amendment (#363)