Military’s shift away from oil clashes with Trump’s promises

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. — At a sprawling desert base, a Marine recharged his radio’s batteries simply by walking, while nearby fellow troops examined a rocket artillery system and a drone — both powered by the sun.

Navy and Marine Corps brass, accompanied by green energy executives, showcased the energy-harnessing knee braces and other innovations at a renewable energy demonstration at Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base, one of many such events that have taken place at military bases across the country as part of the Defense Department’s unprecedented shift away from fossil fuels under the Obama administration. The Pentagon has invested millions over the past decade into everything from hybrid electric ships to wind turbines.

While a growing number of military leaders have declared global warming a national security threat, the strategy clashes with President-elect Donald Trump’s vow to end policies that “undermine” fossil fuel producers. Trump has a chosen a Cabinet with climate change skeptics, though his pick for defense secretary, retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, has advocated green technology to curtail risky fuel-supply runs for troops in conflict zones.

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In this Dec. 7, 2016 photo, Marines stand near an artillery piece that links to solar panels during an exhibition of green energy technology in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Photo Credit: Gregory Bull/AP
It’s not known if Mattis would support buying alternative fuels for ships and aircraft, among the military’s biggest petroleum users. He didn’t respond to requests seeking comment.

Republican lawmakers have lashed out at many of the green initiatives for the Defense Department — one of the world’s largest energy consumers — especially the Navy’s Great Green Fleet that deployed ships run partly on biofuel amid falling oil prices.

Military leaders say alternative energy makes warriors more agile and effective on today’s battlefields.

At the recent demonstrations, a Marine wore knee braces with tiny generators that transformed the energy he produced from walking to recharge batteries. The technology allows troops to generate their own power for as long as three days. The event also featured a…

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