The House Armed Services Committee has included a measure in the just-approved fiscal year 2011 defense authorization bill that aims to curtail 11th-hour conflicts over military readiness and private-sector wind turbine projects, Defense Environment Alert reports today.
Renewable energy projects, such as wind farm proposals, are increasing and becoming a significant encroachment issue for the military, according to DEA.
On the legislative language, DEA reports:
The committee approved a measure that aims to address obstruction of military activities due to the operation of wind farms -- coming on the heels of a high-profile conflict related to the Pentagon’s concerns over a major wind farm proposed for Oregon that raised protests in the Pentagon over its impacts on radar.
DOD backed down from its opposition in late April, vowing to work with the National Security Council and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to avert confrontations with wind energy developers in the future (Defense Environment Alert, May 11). The issue arose as the Obama administration, including DOD, is pushing for increased renewable energy projects such as wind energy, with DOD attempting to strike a tone of balance between support of the administration’s renewable energy goals while being mindful of potential impacts on homeland security. A high-level DOD environment official recently noted that the processes in place to review such projects are inadequate to handle the volume of work now being seen on the renewable energy front.
The committee approved the energy encroachment measure during full committee mark-up on the FY-11 defense authorization bill, H.R. 5136, which passed out of committee on a 59-0 vote May 19.
The measure was part of en bloc amendments sponsored by Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX), chairman of the Armed Services readiness subcommittee. The amendment directs the defense secretary to designate a single entity within DOD to coordinate with the FAA “on aviation obstruction impacts on military installations and operations” and to accelerate the planning tools being developed that DOD will use to give notice of its position on new energy proposals that may obstruct aviation, according to a description of the amendment released by the committee. The committee declined to release the amendment language.
Members on the committee voiced their need for the language both during subcommittee and full committee markups. “The subcommittee has also been concerned about readiness challenges associated with wind-farm obstruction of military training routes and radar,” Ortiz said during the subcommittee markup May 13. “In the end, we need to establish a process that better balances energy security and military readiness, because our nation needs both.”
During consideration of the amendment in the full committee markup, Ortiz said the measure would establish a common process whereby early input from the military can be given.
And during the readiness subcommittee markup, Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) detailed why he believes the amendment is necessary. “I strongly support alternative energy projects, but we must give the Department of Defense an opportunity to review these projects and notify the developers of any impact on military training and readiness early in the process,” Forbes said. “As it stands now, there’s no requirement to notify DOD of wind farm developments, and as a result, they find out so late in the process that any objection they need to raise in the interest of military readiness jeopardizes the entire development.” That is not good for the developers or DOD, he added.
The measure was included in the full committee mark-up after the subcommittee held off on marking up a provision because of jurisdictional issues. Ortiz said the final amendment does not achieve all of his goals, but he did not elaborate on how it falls short.