Sunday, March 19, 2006

Oil shortage threatens military

U.S. News & World Report

By Marianne Lavelle
Posted 3/15/06

A grim view of the nation's energy future, and its implications for the military, emerges in a just released report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"The days of inexpensive, convenient, abundant energy sources are quickly drawing to a close," says the report, titled "Energy Trends and Their Implications for U.S. Army Installations." It concludes that at the current rate of consumption and production decline, the lifetime of proven domestic oil reserves is only 3.4 years. It projects the lifetime of proven worldwide oil reserves at 41 years, but with declining availability, noting that Saudi Arabia – home to the bulk of those reserves – has not increased production in three years.

The report was completed in September but was not released publicly until a request was made earlier this week by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a Maryland Republican who has made several speeches in recent months warning that the world is in the grip of "peak oil" – a time of declining production and rapidly escalating prices. The theory is highly controversial, and the oil industry maintains that there are abundant untapped resources, although admittedly more expensive to develop than has historically been the case. In a speech on the House floor Tuesday night, Bartlett quoted extensively from the report.

"The Army operates in a domestic and world energy situation that is highly uncertain," the report says. Even its outlook on nuclear energy, a key component of Bush administration policy, is not positive. "Our current throwaway nuclear cycle will consume the world reserve of low-cost uranium in about 20 years," the report says.

The researchers conclude that the military needs to take major steps to increase energy efficiency, make a "massive expansion" in renewable energy purchases, and move toward a vast increase in renewable distributed generation, including photovoltaic, solar thermal, microturbines, and biomass energy sources.


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