By Kevin Mooney

WASHINGTON – Contrary to what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told an environmental organization earlier this month, the threat to America’s geopolitical standing comes not from global warming but from anti-energy global warming policies, according to free market policy analysts and national security advocates.

During an annual reception held for the Environmental Defense Fund at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., Panetta described how abrupt environmental changes could unsettle populated areas and create international tension.

“The area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security,” Panetta said at the reception. “Rising sea levels, severe droughts, the melting of the polar caps, the more frequent and devastating natural disasters all raise demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.”

While it is possible for climate change to foster instability in certain areas of the world, updated scientific research indicates that the claims are greatly exaggerated and must be carefully weighed, Marlo Lewis, a senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has warned.

He cites a detailed study published in the official journal for the British Science Association that finds there has not been a single instance of a declared war fought over international fresh water sources over a period of five decades. Instead of fighting over water, the countries collaborate and import “virtual water” in the form of grain, the report says.

Get the truth about global warming, from “The Greatest Hoax: How the global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future” by Sen. James Inhofe and “Eco-Tyranny: How the Left’s Green Agenda will Dismantle America and “Climategate: A Veteran Meteorologist Exposes the Global Warming Scam” by Brian Sussman.

In response to Panetta’s talk, Marc Morano, the editor of Climate Depot, points out that the scientific rationale for restrictive energy policies has been greatly discredited in the past few years. He cites the unfolding “climategate” scandal, that has implicated the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in Britain. Emails leaked from CRU demonstrate how researchers manipulated and distorted scientific data when they could find no evidence of man-made global warming.

“Aside from the fact that the ‘national security’ angle rests on speculative doomsday scenarios, perhaps the biggest whopper of the new movement is the implication that we must pass the congressional climate bill to ‘address’ or ‘remedy’ the problem and thus ‘avoid’ future wars and loss of life,” Morano said. “Left unanswered in this argument is how a climate bill that will have no detectable impact on global temperatures will help ‘solve’ the alleged looming national security threat.”

Instead of fixating on dubious environmental claims, the CEI scholar Lewis has suggested that Defense officials shift their focus over to the national risks that could result from climate change policies.

“Today’s U.S. Army is the most fuel-intensive in history, and the Defense Department is the nation’s largest consumer of fossil fuels,” Lewis wrote in a policy paper.

Therefore, he said, it should interest the Defense Department that cap-and-trade programs are designed to “make fossil fuels more costly.”

The policies green pressure groups have advanced on Capitol Hill, and at the state level, are rooted in a regulatory concept known as the “Precautionary Principle,” Lawrence Kogan, CEO of the Institute for Trade Standards and Sustainable Development, a non-profit legal research group, explained in an interview.

The Precautionary Principle, as it is defined by environmental groups within the European Union and the United Nations, calls for the suspension of any proposed activity or enterprise until after environmental allegations are satisfied, even if a cause-and-effect relationship has not been scientifically established.

“The same fear-based, anti-corporate and luddite mindset that has been so destructive to European companies and economies has been incorporated into the EU Commission international trade policy and systematically exported to America and the world,” Kogan said. “Nothing less than America’s free enterprise system, individual freedoms and international interests – its core political and economic values – are at stake.”

Nowhere is the Precautionary Principle more entrenched and deeply embedded than within the Law of Sea Treaty. Secretary Panetta made the case for ratification during his talk.

“We are the only industrialized nation that has not approved that treaty,” he lamented.

Panetta views the treaty as a way to clear up disputes concerning navigation rights.

But opponents like Kogan and Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, are concerned that the treaty will transfer U.S. sovereignty to the authority of foreign tribunals, which will rule on U.S. seabed mining and military transportation.

“The innocent passage of U.S. nuclear-powered military vessels,” write Kogan and former Navy secretary J. William Middendorf, could be stymied by lawyers claiming hypothetical environmental risks.

Undermining border security

The Precautionary Principle is also invoked by environmental groups that are working with open-border advocates intent on stopping construction of a security fence on the U.S.-Mexico border. Under the guise of wilderness protection, they are pushing for legislation that could result in an accelerated flow of illegal immigration, drug smuggling and human trafficking from Mexico into Arizona, according to law enforcement experts familiar with the terrain.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., sponsored two bills in 2009 that could have been used to prevent federal and state law enforcement officials from patrolling an already porous border area that extends from Sonora, Mexico, into Santa Cruz County, Ariz. Grijalva wanted to extend federal wilderness protection to 84,000 acres of the Tumacacori Highlands.

The area within the Coronado National Forest is adjacent to an already designated wilderness area running along the Mexican border.

Zack Taylor, a retired U.S. Border Patrol officer, is alarmed.

He says giving the area the legal cover of a “wilderness” designation could have the practical effect of pushing the Mexican border 30 miles northward. Taylor says U.S. border agents have to move fast along the U.S.-Mexico border to be effective. But Grijalva’s bills would create a “safe haven” for smugglers and drug dealers.

“Each stretch of the border has its own solution,” he explained. “Once you have success in catching smugglers and illegal aliens at a particular crossing point the next group simply moves laterally along the line, and then the border patrol must respond. They [smugglers and illegal aliens] are the ones who decide where the Border Patrol works, not the Border Patrol.”

But even without any new legislation, the environmental restrictions already in place work to the great disadvantage of America’s national security, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, explained in an interview.

“The drug cartels love our wilderness designation areas on the border because that’s where they can cross,” Poe observed. “They know our border protections have restrictions and that they cannot use four-wheelers in certain areas, and they have to go on horseback or on foot. But, the drug cartels did not get the memo about protecting the environment. We see everything discarded along these routes, all kinds of debris. These [environmental] designations give the cartels a way to come into the U.S.”

Poe continued: “The intentions of the environmentalists may be good, but their policy is failing. If we allowed the border patrol to do its job, the result would be less environmental damage, and improved national security.”

The status of the Keystone Pipeline XL, which would stretch from the oil sand fields in Alberta, Canada, to refineries in the southern U.S., has been source of continued tension between the Obama administration and Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

TransCanada, the company overseeing the project, recently submitted a new application, which included a revised pathway that would avoid parts of Nebraska. Poe anticipates that there could be severe geopolitical ramifications for the U.S. if the project is blocked.

“You cannot really separate the national security questions from the economic,” he said. “We should deal more with Canada and Mexico. If we use our own God-given resources, and develop them in a safe way, then we can find ways to make the turmoil in the Middle East less relevant to our energy needs.”

American workers will lose out if the Keystone Pipeline does not move forward, Poe added, because Canada most likely will sell the crude oil to China. He also said the impact could be particularly severe in Port Arthur, Texas, which is part of his district.

“Port Arthur, Texas, is the refinery capital of world,” he said.

The impact of environmentalism on American national security has also figured into the Republican primary contest between incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar and Richard Mourdock, a tea party favorite, who is currently the state treasurer. Mourdock won a resounding victory in the primary, sending Lugar home after more than three decades in Washington.

“The irony is that it is own energy policy that is threat to our national security, not climate reality,” Mourdock said during a conference call. “We are basing our energy policy on the greatest hoax of all time, which is that mankind is changing climate.”

Mourdock also criticized Lugar for backing the Law of Sea Treaty.

“Unlike Sen. Lugar I do not view the United Nations as the answer to every international problem,” he said. “He doesn’t think the U.S. should ever act unilaterally.”

Get the truth about global warming, from “The Greatest Hoax: How the global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future” by Sen. James Inhofe and “Eco-Tyranny: How the Left’s Green Agenda will Dismantle America and “Climategate: A Veteran Meteorologist Exposes the Global Warming Scam” by Brian Sussman.


Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.