President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan puts $180 billion toward emerging technologies at the Pentagon, including investments in environmental programs.
The $2 trillion American jobs plan—which progressives said should include Green New Deal-style policies—would propel the Pentagon toward the use of renewable energy instead of fossil fuels for military vehicles.
Ray Mabus, a former Navy secretary and climate change advocate, said the Department of Defense could lead the way on environmental policies for years to come.
"Moving off fossil fuels into renewables will have first just the direct effect of reducing the carbon footprint dramatically," Mabus told Politico. "Where the military goes, the civilian world often follows," he added, noting that electric vehicles "could catalyze an industry that will have those impacts more widely."
Mabus oversaw the Navy’s first attempt at transitioning to renewable energy by incorporating biofuel into the fleet, a plan which raised costs at the expense of readiness and was relentlessly attacked by congressional Republicans as wasteful.
Critics told the Washington Free Beacon in November that if Biden's Pentagon leans hard into green policies, it could harm national security. Many of America’s most important forward positions face a readiness problem, and simulations project U.S. forces losing in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
Biden's plan would also invest billions in military innovations such as semiconductors, a China-dominated technology used in advanced military equipment.
House Armed Services Committee vice ranking member Rep. Rob Wittman (R., Va.) said the Biden administration should prioritize the current strength of the Pentagon rather than environmental changes given the major threat at hand.
"We need to get more out of our dollar than the Chinese get out of their yuan or the Russians get out of their ruble," Wittman said. "If we have an astronomical increase in costs, we need to think twice about those efforts…. I don't think that we should do things that sacrifice our ability to counter threats out there solely at the expense of environmental issues."