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Renewables, Oil and Security

The national security angle of renewable energy occasionally gains resonance and that nexus will be highlighted in a forum on February 27.

That seems apropos in the current news cycle, but saber-rattling in Iran and the attendant threat to oil supplies hasn’t seemed to move clean energy forward, but has only heightened the oil-first argument.

That bothers retired vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, who also happens to head the American Council on Renewable Energy.

McGinn and Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti (Ret.) of the British Royal Navy will participate in a public forum on National Security & America’s Energy Future at Colorado State University (CSU) on Monday evening.

McGinn, who has traveled through the vulnerable Strait of Hormuz numerous times, understands the risk of economic damage a closure would cause.

“It’s just the latest in our fears about the disruption of supply and the cascading effects on our economy because of oil prices going up,” he said.

He wants renewables to be part of the conversation about diverse supplies, but the politicized debates in Washington seem to make fossil fuels and renewables an either-or proposition.

“Even though we have some additional supplies in the U.S. it’s not going to solve our problems in the long-term or the near-term, either,” McGinn said.

“One of the things I worry about is with the emphasis on domestic production of oil we’ll somehow feel complacent, that we’ll be able to do everything we need to do if we’re simply able to exploit our domestic sources,” he added.

A purpose of the Colorado event is to tie the perspectives together, by tying the national security components to economic development and cleaner energy sourcing.

“We need the kind of policy at the state and federal level that encourage the development of a much broader energy choices, whether for electricity production or transportation.”
McGinn said Colorado is a national leader, but the recent stalemate in Washington threatens that.

“We hope to continue the leadership discussion as Colorado has developed good policies and continued to make investments that encourage private sector investment in renewables,” he said. “I’m hoping that that chemistry continues, for Colorado to develop a diverse energy portfolio.”

McGinn hopes momentum over the past couple years that has stalled is not lost.
“If we can’t get over the politics, then we’re really squandering the opportunity to do what people in both parties say they want to do.”

Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti is the U.K.’s Climate and Energy Security Envoy. Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn (Ret.) is Vice Chair of CNA’s Military Advisory Board (CNA MAB), an elite panel of some of the nation’s highest-ranking retired admirals and generals who study issues critical to our national security. Reports by the CNA MAB were among the first to identify America’s over-dependence on fossil fuels as a national security threat - economically, military and diplomatically.

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