Elected Officials, Military and Policy Experts Underscore Opportunities to Safeguard U.S. Energy & Climate Security

Panel discussion highlights critical role of methane reductions and investments to spur energy transition

August 4, 2022
Hannah Blatt, hblatt@edfaction.org, 202-572-3534

(Washington, D.C. – Aug. 4, 2022) Today at the National Press Club a panel of elected officials, military and policy experts discussed the intersecting nature of energy and climate security, as well as immediate pathways for the Biden administration to act in support of both – such as federal regulations to curb oil and gas methane pollution and investments to accelerate the energy transition.

“People everywhere are suffering from global supply shocks and Putin’s unprovoked aggression,” said U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper. “Transitioning to clean energy will lower costs and bolster U.S. energy security.”

The conversation also underscored the direct threat climate change poses to U.S. national security interests and the vulnerabilities created by reliance on fossil fuels.

“Let me begin by stating what has become increasingly obvious and of great concern to military leaders: climate change and our addiction to fossil fuels is a military and national security imperative,” said former Secretary of the U.S. Navy, Ray Mabus. “That is why I issued energy goals that at least half of all Naval energy would come from renewable, non-fossil fuel sources. If the military can make these sorts of dramatic changes over a short period of time, so can the U.S. and so can our allies if we put our ingenuity and fortitude to work.”

Panelists also focused on the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and solutions to address the energy security threats the conflict has created for the U.S. and its European allies while working to stabilize the climate.

“The world’s dependence on fossil fuels is both responsible for the climate crisis and underpins the current crisis in Ukraine,” added Secretary Mabus. “The way to fight Putin in the long run is to shift the world economy away from the oil and gas that keeps him affluent, armed and arrogant.”

In addition to longer term solutions, the discussion highlighted the immediate dual opportunity presented by reductions in emissions of methane – which is both a potent greenhouse gas and the main component of natural gas – for addressing climate and energy risks.

“By cutting methane emissions, it means less American energy is wasted and more natural gas is brought to market without having to increase drilling activity,” noted Retired Major General Paul Eaton. “Actions to cut energy waste and expedite permanent protections will increase our energy security as well as honor the federal government’s obligations to the American people, their health, and our shared planet during a critical and perilous time.”

EDF analysis finds that reducing methane waste from U.S. oil and gas operations could provide over half the gas the Biden administration has committed to provide European allies. U.S. oil and gas operators currently waste 35 billion cubic feet of methane annually – enough to meet the needs of 17 million homes.

“The U.S. has a critical role to play in leading on methane and climate. We’ve seen ambitious U.S. commitments on the global stage and now federal policies need to deliver on them,” said Mark Brownstein, Senior Vice President of Energy Transition at Environmental Defense Fund. “Protective rules from EPA this fall are vital for curbing pollution, and they must address the outsized pollution from smaller wells – which provide just 6% of our oil and gas, but produce half of wellsite methane emissions – and the wasteful practice of routine flaring.”

A recording of the livestream is available here.

Today’s event was hosted by Environmental Defense Action Fund, The American Security Project, Center for Climate Security and Vet Voice Foundation.