The U.S. Capitol building with red tulips.

The U.S. Capitol as seen on March 21, 2024. (Gianna Gronowski)

This July 4, America marked 248 years since our Founders led us from tyranny and birthed a democratic nation that remains a beacon of hope. That independent spirit still defines us but proved elusive with the U.S. House of Representatives’ recent passage of an annual defense bill that deepens America’s dependence on traditional energy sources.

The chamber’s fiscal year 2025 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, shunned critical investments in critical clean energy programs — which would make us more secure — and instead used the Act to boost oil and gas companies — which would prolong our reliance on energy sources that fueled decades of global conflict. Several of the provisions make no sense, such as the amendments that would ban the military from using electric vehicles. Other provisions would block several of President Joe Biden’s clean energy executive orders.

We both served in the U.S. Army. We firmly believe that tethering our military’s future to oil and gas is a mistake. Our military leaders know this and have for years. The Pentagon has taken steps toward embracing clean energy, especially on bases in the United States. Clean energy makes our military installations and surrounding defense communities more resilient. Microgrids and fleet electrification of non-tactical vehicles can keep equipment running and lights on, even when the local grid goes down. So, if disaster or enemies strike, our installations are more likely to remain operational.

Clean energy alternatives enhance operational security by localizing energy production in the forward environment. Traditional oil and gas options, meanwhile, can have deadly consequences for American service members. Fuel convoys were routine targets for our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our dependence on fossil fuels creates continued opportunities to contest our logistical capabilities. By expanding the use of clean energy on military installations, we can reduce the number of fuel convoys that put American service members in harm’s way.

With clean energy, we can also reduce the risk to our families at home. Global fossil fuel markets are too easily manipulated by hostile petrostates. Russia has sought to use its oil and gas exports to destabilize Ukraine and European allies, with ripple effects felt across the world economy. Instead, domestic clean energy development enhances energy security across America.

Critics argue that clean energy increases our reliance on China because of its history of flooding our market with imported components. But the reality is that the American clean energy economy is booming thanks to record levels of investment into domestic manufacturing from the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act. We’re not there yet, but it’s becoming far more viable to develop clean energy infrastructure.

The good news is that it’s not too late to change course. In the Senate, Republicans and Democrats can and should strip these anti-EV and anti-clean energy provisions from their version of the NDAA. And the House can still reconsider its position before a final version becomes law. Enacted with the proper provisions for clean energy, the NDAA will provide the operational budget to ensure that our military is the most resilient and lethal fighting force on the planet.

It’s time to win the future, not retreat to the past. We proudly joined 42 other veterans and clean energy workers in a letter to congressional leaders, urging them against cutting clean energy security from the NDAA. Removing these provisions puts our national security at risk, our energy security at risk, our nation’s economy at risk, and the lives of American service members at risk. Investing in technologies that reduce our reliance on adversaries and enhance combat capability is paramount. Congress must reinstate the clean energy provisions of the NDAA today.

Basil Seggos, a U.S. Army veteran, was the longest-serving commissioner at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. He is a partner and senior policy director at Foley Hoag LLP. Michael Callender, a U.S. Army veteran and Roy H. Park Leadership Fellow from the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, is the director of mobility for CleanCapital.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now