The National Priorities Project has released a new report titled “The Military Cost of Energy” that explores how much the United States is spending to secure access to energy. According to the report, the United States is spending $100 billion annually on military operations to defend access to oil and natural gas reserves around the globe. The report estimates that the military spends up to 30 percent of its annual budget to secure access to energy resources internationally. While many people will point to the Iraq War as evidence of this, the report argues that the use of the military to secure energy resources is far more pervasive.
The report shows that the United States spends billions of dollars per year to secure access to fossil fuels–the country’s primary source of fuel. The United States imports 58.2% of the petroleum that it uses, creating a system where energy needs in some way dictate and/or inform military policy. There is little diversity in US energy sources, with 85% of energy coming from fossil fuels (oil, natural gas, and coal). Only 6.8% of the United States’ energy comes from renewable sources such as hydro, wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal sources. The report says that $100 billion is spent on securing access to energy resources while only $1.2 billion is spent on renewable energy sources.
Along with the report, the National Priorities Project released two fact sheets that provide analysis of how this militarized energy policy effects the states. Michigan’s share of the $100 billion of federal money spent each year is $2.8 billion, with only $931,000 going to renewable energy. The organization also provides an important overview of Michigan’s energy use and the sources for its energy:
* Michigan, in 2005, consumed 312.9 BTUs of energy per person. This ranks Michigan as number 36 in the nation for energy consumption per person. The United States as a whole consumed 340 million BTUs of energy per person.
* Of this energy consumed, these are the sources Michigan drew their energy from over the last 40 years:
* Thirty-one states have set renewable energy guidelines for their electricity providers called Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Michigan does not have Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Michigan has not specified that any amount of electricity produced in the state be renewable by any year.
* Research is required to discover and develop new sources of energy as well as ways of conserving the energy we currently access. In 2008, Michigan received a total of $45.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy. Of this, 57.4% was for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
* Because the transportation sector relies almost exclusively on fossil fuels, vehicles that do not use gasoline or diesel are particularly important. Of 8,154,235 vehicles registered in Michigan in 2006, 0.2% were alternative fuel vehicles. The national average is 0.3%. By comparison, in 2006, 13% of Sweden’s newly registered cars were alternative fuel vehicles.
Overall, the report provides an important analysis of one of the motivators of US foreign policy.