The Biden administration’s aggressive push to transition to alternative green energy is leaving the U.S. military dependent on its top adversary, China, which would be disastrous in an event of a war with the country, according to a study by the Heritage Foundation publishing on Thursday and obtained first by Breitbart News.

The study, entitled “Chinese Handcuffs: Don’t Allow the U.S. Military to Be Hooked on Green Energy from China,” is the second part in a series researching the perils of over reliance on Chinese renewable energy and a “misguided” environmental agenda.

The top takeaways of the study, authored by Heritage Foundation Senior Research Fellow for Naval Warfare and Advanced Technology Brent Sadler, are:

— Due to a heavy reliance on foreign sources, poor policy choices, and constrained transport of fuels, the U.S. military could be vulnerable to potential localized fuel shortages and Chinese economic coercion.

— In a war where China is likely to use all means to slow or cut U.S. domestic fuel transport, including cyber, the federal strategic petroleum reserve’s locations could be cut off from where the fuel is most needed.

— The American industry must be freed from the distraction of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) special interests and the U.S. government must begin the process of loosening the shackles on American shipping imposed by the Jones Act and improve energy security.

The study’s main recommendations are to ensure the military has secure and readily available energy for a prolonged war by rethinking the role and management of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, reconfigure and build American refineries, tap into vast domestic energy reserves, and strengthen energy trade relationships with allies, and more.

Sadler said U.S. military forces for the foreseeable future will employ ships, planes, and combat vehicles dependent on fossil fuels. For example, he said the U.S. military still heavily relies on commercial carriers — which depend on conventional fuels for over 90 percent of its energy needs — to move personnel and critical repair parts.

“For context, in 2018, commercial carriers moved 90 percent of military personnel and 40 percent of material shipments,” he wrote, adding that “without sufficient fuel the American economy will markedly slow, with dire consequences for military operations reliant on a functioning domestic industry and logistics network.”

“This problem would be especially dire during a prolonged war with China,” he wrote.

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Sadler called for deliberate policy planning and investments to ensure the U.S. can sustain prolonged military operations, particularly in the case of disrupted overseas energy markets and normal shipping methods.

“Under such conditions, the U.S. will need more diverse and reliable overseas suppliers for military operations. Given the global impact of a war with China, the U.S. urgently needs to ensure it has enough fuel stocks and crude oil to allow it time to adjust to a wartime footing,” he wrote.

He recommended reconfiguring existing refineries or building new ones to meet wartime demand that cannot be sourced overseas, which he warned would take years.

He also recommended updating the role of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which was established by Congress in 1975 to mitigate energy shocks, and is mandated to hold a 90-day reserve of crude oil, which is not based on wartime usage.

“The SPR and America’s crude refining capacity are alone inadequate to minimize risks to accessing and transporting U.S. fuel. Actions are needed to ensure adequate crude is available and can be refined at the rates needed for a wartime economy and military with associated ability to move those fuels where needed,” he wrote.

He added that the “proclivity to tap the SPR for political purposes” has made the situation worse. “President Joe Biden’s decision to tap the SPR in 2022 and release 180 million barrels ahead of midterm elections dropped inventories by almost one-third in an attempt to reduce prices at-the-pump,” he wrote.

“As of January 5, 2024, the SPR contains 355 million barrels of crude oil—the lowest total since 1983, leaving the energy security of the American people at risk,” he wrote.

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“The SPR should be managed to ensure the U.S. can support a prolonged military crisis with reduced access to overseas energy markets. This will require changing political attitudes and new legislation,” he recommended.

Sadler also called for the removal of “self-defeating rules and legislation,” and to retire the “ESG warriors” and the Jones Act, which requires that cargo traveling between U.S. ports must sail on an American-owned ship, built in the U.S., and crewed by a majority of U.S. citizens.

He said U.S. financial institutions have increasingly been pressured by progressive interest groups to adopt ESG policies, such as net-zero emission policies. He wrote:

This pressure has disincentivized investment in relatively clean, reliable, and affordable American energy production in favor of ‘clean’ renewables. In fact, China largely controls many renewables, including markets in. battery production, solar cell fabrication and wind turbine construction. ESG is also affecting firms residing in treaty allies overseas, combining into a potential disaster that undermines U.S. foreign and national security policies. ESG policies are increasing dependence on China for renewables, undermining attempts at U.S. energy independence, and weakening America’s economic resiliency. Combined, ESG policies are further opening America to Chinese economic coercion.

Sadler wrote that the Jones Act has not “delivered on its mandate to ensure America has a minimum of domestic shipping and merchant mariners to sustain the nation in war,” and has been “unworkable for years.”

“Too often, ships that conform to the Jones Act that can move fuels, such as liquified natural gas (LNG), are not available, meaning waivers for foreign shipping are needed. This exacerbates an underlying mismatch between the amount of fuel that America will need and moving it to where needed to fight—and win—a war with China. The approach recommended is to allow allied shipping to more readily participate in this domestic energy shipping, while focusing on regaining American maritime competitiveness to rebuild domestic maritime capacity,” he wrote.

He recommended that the U.S. strengthen energy trade relationships with allies and partners, and that treaty allies such as Japan, Philippines, and South Korea, should be exempt from the Jones Act restriction.

He said the president should “refocus diplomatic and economic engagement away from a myopic ESG and climate agenda to an agenda that supports energy resiliency. Countries in Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Southeast Asia are home to burgeoning energy resources but susceptible to investment from China and Russia—both of which are known to weaponize energy markets for political control,” he said.

He recommending strengthening energy trade across North America.

“Canada and Mexico are the United States’ two largest energy trading partners but face unnecessary constraints. A first step to
alleviating this would be permitting cross-border energy infrastructure projects, such as the Keystone XL pipeline. Doing so would make it easier and less bureaucratic for investments to more easily flow to expanded domestic port capacities for energy trade,” he wrote.

In conclusion, he wrote:

The recommendations in this paper should be common sense policies even in the event that a conflict does not break out. United States’ energy network is brittle in some regions and unable to adjust to surges in demand easily. In wartime, the consequences of such weaknesses could be an inability to sustain military combat operations and a wartime industry unable to keep America safe. But readiness for this possibility could be a significant advantage that would deter China by presenting it a foe able to wage a prolonged war backed by a resilient wartime economy and industry. At the same, an America that is self-reliant for its operational energy needs strengthens its overall strategic position over a China that is reliant on imports foreign fuels.

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