Critics slam Pelosi, Kirby military polluter comments
Pelosi's comments were later expanded on by Pentagon press secretary Kirby
It's Veterans Day, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is under fire in the wake of her remarks at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in which she agreed with a comment that the U.S. military is a "larger polluter than 140 countries combined."
Pelosi, responding to a question that asked if the U.S. military was exempt from climate talks despite being a larger polluter than 140 countries combined, stated, "We recognize that as well," before vowing to move the Pentagon away from fossil fuels.
"As I say, the Defense Department sees this systemically, that we have to stop it as a national security issue. And one way to do that is to stop our dependence on fossil fuels, which exacerbate the climate crisis," claimed Pelosi, who was visiting the conference with a group of lawmakers that included Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
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Now, critics are voicing their concerns that the actual national security issue would lie in a rushed transition from fossil fuels to new green initiatives.
"Sacrificing our prosperity and security to appease the ideological demands of climate activists is foolhardy," said Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., to FOX Business when asked about Pelosi’s comments.
"The safety and well-being of Americans must come first," added the Arkansas senator, who served over four years in the U.S. Army, with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, before being honorably discharged.
Despite the warnings from critics, the Biden administration has been adamant about installing elements of progressives’ Green New Deal in military operations.
On Monday, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, while speaking at Wayne State University in Michigan, touted the future of electric vehicles in military use, saying the Department of Defense (DOD) "can buy electric vehicles just as easily as we can buy non-, you know, non-electric vehicles."
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The Heritage Foundation, however, warns that such a mission could quickly turn into a costly venture: It estimates the cost of President Biden’s vow to replace all 650,000 U.S. government vehicles with electric models at roughly $20 billion.
Despite this, the Pentagon under Biden has maintained that climate change is one of — if not the largest — threat to U.S. national security.
Defense press secretary John Kirby agreed with Pelosi's comments on Wednesday, saying, "We are the largest emitter here in the federal government. We know that, and that's one of the reasons why we're taking the climate crisis so very seriously."
Kirby also told Fox News on Wednesday that "both are equally important," when asked if China or climate change posed a bigger threat to the U.S.
When told of Kirby's comment, Cotton was astonished.
"Ask any American that question, and they’ll know the answer. This is why the Biden administration is losing to China," he said.
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Other lawmakers stressed that while the end goal is admirable, jeopardizing national security was a non-starter.
"Trying to make vehicles more fuel-efficient is a good goal, but it can't come at the expense of military readiness," said Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., who served over four years in the U.S. Army.
"China is producing double the amount of greenhouse gas emissions of the U.S. and developing hypersonic missiles to boot. The Biden administration needs to focus on winning actual wars instead of ‘woke’ culture wars," continued the Florida congressman, who was stationed in Afghanistan before being honorably discharged.
Another expert outspoken on the subject is retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding, who served as senior director for strategic planning on President Trump’s National Security Council (NSC).
"I think it's misguided to think of the Department of Defense as the way that you fight climate change. Maybe the EPA, maybe American scientists, but not the Department of Defense — that needs to be focused on our adversaries," said Spalding.
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Spalding, like Cotton, expressed doubt in the Pentagon’s initiatives, saying they could leave the U.S. exposed.
"We should be focused on making our troops as lethal and as capable as they can be, and one of those things has to do with logistics. So if we are essentially trying to find alternative sources of energy that aren't as efficient as those that we have today [and] increases our logistics footprint or somehow makes it harder to deploy, then that would not be in the best interests of the United States," remarked Spalding, who also served as a military fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Spalding also expressed regret that politics is once again playing a role in national security matters, lamenting that these goals might not be in the best interests of the U.S.
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"National security should be immune from politics. It should be focused on what are in the best interests of the country and what do we need to do to ensure that this country is safe. It takes a lot of time to charge an electric vehicle. So I would hate to see how long it took to charge an electric tank," he concluded.