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Smith criticizes defense bill energy provision

House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash., said today that a provision in the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act that would prohibit the military from buying alternative fuels if they are more expensive than oil is short sighted.

“These amendments were also added last year in the House and we were able to strip it out in conference,” said Smith, “but these are important energy issues and they aren’t getting enough attention this time.

“One provision in particular says that you can’t use alternative energy if it is more expensive than using traditional sources, but that is a short term look at a long term problem.” Smith said during a press call.

“The reason it is important for us to be investing in energy efficiencies and alternative fuels,” he added, “is that we are too dependent on oil and the price of oil is going up.

“The Department of Defense spends more money on energy than anyone else in the U.S. so they need alternatives,” Smith said, “and you aren’t going to get alternatives unless you are going to take some time to develop them.

“Both of the provisions passed last week are direct blows to a sensible energy policy for the country as well as the Department of Defense and we are simply trying to raise awareness for folks that we need to reverse these in the Senate and in conference,” said Smith.

In a news release last week, Smith had said, “Our nation must decrease, if not eliminate, its reliance on imported fuels and maintain our leadership in this area. China and many other nations are seeking to become leaders in this area, and the committee’s actions will set us back and risk our leadership in this arena.”

The call was arranged by Operation Free, a national coalition of U.S. military veterans that believes U.S. security “relies on ending our addiction to oil and establishing clean, renewable sources of energy.”

Operation Free is a campaign of the Truman National Security Project, a leadership institute that trains young progressives to talk about national security issues. For more information, go to Truman Project.

On the call, Smith was joined by Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, a retired U.S. Marine who is a member of Operation Free.

Castellaw said, “We advocate for a reduction in the vulnerability that a dependence on oil poses. The military is leading the way to achieve this goal and we should support it.”