How Much is Military Defense of Fossil Fuels Costing Us? Up to $215 Billion a Year

Sgt. Randall M. Yackiel at Wikimedia Commons, public domain.)Is the Iraq War all about oil? Maybe not. But even former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan has acknowledged the action was “essential” to protect the world’s access to oil. With many of the world’s top-producing oil and gas fields in decline, is it unreasonable to suggest there will be more military action to defend our “right” to fossil fuels?

Not according to the National Priorities Project, which today released a report that finds the U.S. is spending $97 billion to $215 billion a year on military efforts to defend oil and natural gas reserves around the world. That means as much as 30 percent of the U.S.’s military budget is aimed at protecting access to fossil fuels.

“The military budget isn’t broken down by mission or region of the world, so it isn’t obvious at all how many resources are devoted to securing access to and the transport of energy,” says Anita Dancs, a professor of economics and co-author of the report, The Military Cost of Securing Energy. “Because of this, we developed different sets of assumptions and created two methodologies to answer the question.”

Even without the Iraq war ($562 billion and counting so far), the U.S. Department of Defense will spend close to $100 billion next year to secure energy resources, Dancs says.

“We hope that by publishing these preliminary results, we can start a national discussion,” she continues. “Not only about how to calculate these numbers more precisely, but about the implications of this spending when the federal government only spends a few billion on renewable energy and conservation.”

It shouldn’t take a genius to figure out which expenditure makes more sense in a troubled world with growing energy demands and diminishing oil and gas production. Let’s hope the next president realizes that (though one candidate apparently doesn’t (scroll down to the section titled “Oil illiteracy”)).

Visit the National Priorities Project to read more about its latest report.

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