House Republicans Clash with Pentagon over Climate Change and National Security

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Rep. David McKinley

Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have decided that they—and not the military—know what’s best for the country when it comes to defending it and dealing with climate change.


Determined to disregard the volume of science warning that global warming is happening and to prepare for its effects, GOP lawmakers, by a vote of 231-192, pushed through an amendment that prevents the Department of Defense from spending money on matters related to climate change, or using funds on alternative sources of energy.


The move comes in response to recent studies, both civilian and military, that have discussed the national security implications of climate change, such as future flooding in areas of key military bases and growing overseas threats created by weather-related famine.


One report, authored by 16 military experts with the CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board, said climate change is already a national security concern.


Retired Vice Admiral Lee Gunn, who serves as president of CNA Corporation’s Institute for Public Research, acknowledged the importance of the American military weaning itself off oil and embracing renewable energy sources like solar.


The amendment’s sponsor, Rep. David McKinley (R-West Virginia) considers climate change to be a political issue. “Our climate is obviously changing; it has always been changing. With all the unrest around the global [sic], why should Congress divert funds from the mission of our military and national security to support a political ideology,” McKinley wrote his colleagues before the vote. “This amendment will ensure we maximize our military might without diverting funds for a politically motivated agenda.”

 In response to the amendment, Mike Breen, executive director of the Truman National Security Project, which promotes clean energy efforts, told the liberal blog Think Progress: “You can’t change facts by ignoring them. This is like trying to lose 20 pounds by smashing your bathroom scale.”


The Senate has just begun work on its version of the bill, and it’s yet to be seen if the amendment will still be in the bill when it hits President Barack Obama’s desk.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

House Votes to Deny Climate Science and Ties Pentagon’s Hands on Climate Change (by Ryan Koronowski, Think Progress)

DOD Wraps Climate Change Response into Master Plans (by Cheryl Pellerin, American Forces Press Service)

HR 4435 Vote (U.S. House)

McKinley Amendment Bars Defense Funds for Climate Change (by David Gutman, Charleston Gazette)


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