Transcript: Thom Hartmann & Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus - National Clean Energy Summit 4.0. August 30, 2011

Show live from the National Clean Energy Summit 4.0, co-sponsored by the Center for American Progress, live from Las Vegas, NV.

Thom Hartmann: Welcome back, Thom Hartmann here with you. In our first hour John Podesta dropped by, runs the Center for American Progress which is doing such great work these days getting the word out, particularly through their blogs at ThinkProgress. And Michael Yackira was here with Nevada Energy, or NVEnergy, and talking about geothermal.


Thom Hartmann: Secretary Ray Mabus, am I pronouncing that right?

Ray Mabus: You are.

Thom Hartmann: Great to have you with us sir. You are the Secretary of the United States Navy if I have that right.

Ray Mabus: You do.

Thom Hartmann: The 75th United States Secretary of the Navy. You lead the navy and the marine corps, responsible for an annual budget of 150 billion people, or dollars and 900 thousand people. The military, historically, has been one of the largest users of energy, arguably in the world. What are you all doing about this?

Ray Mabus: Well one of the things that we've identified as one of our vulnerabilities is that we rely too much on fossil fuels. And particularly foreign sources of fossil fuels. We buy too much oil and gas from either actually or potentially volatile places on earth. And we are beginning to move away from that. I've established goals, five goals in the navy for energy usage. The broadest of which is that by no later than 2020 at least half of all energy used by the navy, both afloat and ashore, will come from non-fossil fuel sources.

Thom Hartmann: Wow. That's extraordinary.

Ray Mabus: And we are making a lot of progress on that already.

Thom Hartmann: I'm assuming some of that is nuclear, you've got nuclear power …

Ray Mabus: We do start out with 17% nuclear, all our submarines, all our carriers are nuclear powered.

Thom Hartmann: But you're looking to expand things beyond other than nuclear. For example?

Ray Mabus: Absolutely. We have already tested most of our aircraft on biofuel, we've flown the f-18 hornet, the so called green hornet, on a biofuel aviation gas mixture. It flew 1.7 times the speed of sound, didn't notice a difference.

Thom Hartmann: Wow.

Ray Mabus: We've certified most of our aircraft, including the v-22 tilt rotor Osprey for the marines two weeks ago, the t-45 trainer last week. We're on a parallel course certifying our surface ships on biofuels as well. Ashore we are, we tripled our amount of solar last year, we're on track to double it again this year.

Thom Hartmann: Wow.

Ray Mabus: While the navy and marine corps are maritime seagoing services, we do own 3.3 million acres of land and have 72,500 buildings. So we are building an FY '12, we require a gold LEED option and in '13 gold LEED will be mandatory for all our buildings at no additional cost to taxpayers within our budget. We are doing things like geothermal, hydrothermal, wind, solar, to, all to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.

Thom Hartmann: That's remarkable. Are there any exotic things that you guys are maybe flirting with on the edges, for example you've got a ship at sea and there's a major temperature gradient between surface and a thousand or two thousand feet down. Can you somehow exploit that to draw energy from it or, things like that?

Ray Mabus: There are all sorts of smart folks working on every sort of technology imaginable. Not only navy, office of naval research, also at DARPA and in the private sector. You're seeing just very cutting edge research. We don't want to prejudge the technology. Whatever works is what we will end up using and buying. Just as a small aside, one of the patents that the office of naval research just got was to mix organic waste and sea water to make energy. So you can imagine an unmanned underwater vehicle getting low on energy just burrowing into the bottom of the sea floor which is all organic waste, mixing it with seawater and powering itself back up and heading out again.

Thom Hartmann: Is that through a catalytic reaction or through a biological reaction?

Ray Mabus: You are talking to an English major right now.

Thom Hartmann: I'm sorry, it's the science geek in me coming out here. I find it fascinating. We're talking with Secretary Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Untied States Navy. We have a little less than a minute left.

Ray Mabus: Today, Secretary Tom Vilsack from Agriculture, Secretary Steven Chu from Energy and I announced our request for information from industry, the president has tasked those, our three departments with setting up a nationwide advance drop in biofuels industry. We're using the Defense Production Act and the Commodity Credit Corporation to do this. And we have a plan for the three agencies to invest up to 510 million dollars in conjunction with private industry and with private finance to set up such a nationwide thing. And we released the request for information today. The RFI is on, it's the top story with a link to it.

Thom Hartmann: Great.

Ray Mabus: And we are looking forward to fulfilling the commander in chief's order to get this established.

Thom Hartmann: That's marvelous. Secretary Mabus, thanks so much for being with us today.

Ray Mabus: Thom, thank you.

Thom Hartmann: An honor to meet you. Thank you very much. Keep up the great work, sir. We'll be back. Thom Hartmann here, broadcasting live from the National Clean Energy Summit.

Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.

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