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Experts: U.S. Military Facilities Threatened by Climate Change

Cutting programs that fight climate change threaten military bases in Minnesota and around the country. (US Air Force)
Cutting programs that fight climate change threaten military bases in Minnesota and around the country. (US Air Force)
April 7, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. – National-security experts say the Trump administration's attack on programs designed to slow global climate change will destabilize countries, especially in the Middle East, and threaten U.S. military facilities in Minnesota along with the rest of the United States and abroad. Comments by Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, USMC (retired), CEO of the American Security Project; and Zach Roberts, partner, Truman National Security Project.

National-security experts say President Trump's actions to roll back or eliminate programs to slow global climate change will put the country in danger.

According to retired Marine Corps General Stephen Cheney, CEO of the American Security Project, the impacts of climate change are already destabilizing volatile regions such as the Middle East and threatening U.S. military bases as sea levels rise.

"Military services have to plan for this and survive," he said. "It's a daily, ongoing occurrence while others perhaps have the attitude of 'Not in my backyard so I don't have to worry about it.'"

Trump recently signed an executive order to nullify President Obama's climate-change efforts and revive the coal industry, claiming that climate regulations cost jobs and hinder growth. But Cheney notes that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is among those who believe climate change is man-made and a threat to stability, and he is likely to include it in his national-security plans.

Leia Guccione, a defense council member with the Truman National Security Project, says pulling back on renewables also would put the nation's economic security at risk.

"And if this becomes something that's a lower priority for the U.S., then countries like China are happy to take the lead innovating and being the go-to manufacturer and solution provider for things like wind and solar," she said.

She says Trump's emphasis on returning to coal could distract from more important investments such as bringing the nation's 100-year-old power grid into the 21st century, a move she says is necessary to protect against climate change as well as terror and cyber attacks.

Trump has said his executive orders will put coal miners back to work. But Cheney says economics, not public policy, are behind the decline in coal use.

Cheney is convinced the future lies in developing clean, renewable energy.

"You'd think that would appeal to the Trump administration," he added. "Hey, these are business guys, it's cheaper to have solar power and wind power. Why wouldn't we do that instead of coal? So, that's what's going to drive coal out of business."

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MN