Senate Armed Services Committee

Nominations of Department of Defense energy and environment positions, and others 1

216 Hart
Tue, 23 Mar 2010 13:30:00 GMT

Nominations of:
  • Elizabeth A. McGrath to be Deputy Chief Management Officer of the Department of Defense;
  • Michael J. McCord to be Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller);
  • Sharon E. Burke to be Director of Operations Energy Plans and Programs;
  • Solomon B. Watson IV to be General Counsel of the Department of the Army; and
  • Katherine G. Hammack to be Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations and Environment.

The nominees will be present.

E&E News
The Senate Armed Services Committee tomorrow will consider President Obama’s nominee to be the first person to fill a position created to rein in the Defense Department’s energy use in combat situations.

As the director of operational energy plans and programs, Sharon Burke would be responsible for working toward better fuel demand management for the services’ ships, tanks, aircraft and vehicles as well as the generators that provide heating, air conditioning and power to bases in Afghanistan and Iraq. If confirmed, Burke will be the top adviser to the secretary of Defense and the deputy secretary of Defense regarding the services’ operational energy plans and programs.

Burke will likely have a smooth confirmation hearing. Ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) does not have any concerns with her confirmation, according to a committee aide. And, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) is planning to meet with Burke today to “get a sense of who she is and what she’s about,” according to Inhofe spokesman Jared Young. However, Inhofe does not plan on opposing her confirmation at the hearing tomorrow, Young said.

Burke currently serves as a vice president at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) in Washington, D.C., focusing on ways international demand for natural resources affects climate change, biodiversity and security.

Last summer, while working at CNAS, she testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on how U.S. national security and climate change are linked. Her comments provide insight into what type of actions she would advocate if confirmed to the position and indicate that she would likely take swift and definitive action to reduce the Defense Department’s carbon footprint and incorporate climate change concerns into defense strategies.

“National security capabilities can take decades to build: We need to design the ideas and equipment and recruit and train the personnel to protect and defend the nation 10 to 40 years in the future, and it is clear that climate change will shape our future,” Burke said in her testimony.

Burke stressed that since DOD is the single largest energy consumer in the United States, it could create a “significant demand pull” that could drive the research and response regarding climate change. She also pressed for better education efforts to help the defense community reach consensus on the science of climate change and how it would affect defense operations.

“There is an urgent need to communicate the science [of climate change] in terms of risk management and plausible scenarios; the defense community, after all, has spent billions of dollars building weapons and training personnel to deal with risks and plausible threats in the future,” she said.

The position Burke was nominated for was created in the fiscal 2009 Defense Authorization Act following sharp criticism from the Defense Science Task Board on DOD’s energy management by operational forces. The task board said in 2008 that the lack of sustained senior leadership on this issue is “one of the most significant barriers to changing wasteful practices.” Other nominees

The committee tomorrow also will consider Katherine Hammack to be assistant secretary of the Army for installations and environment.

Hammack currently works for Ernst & Young’s Climate Change and Sustainability Services, where she has helped clients obtain Energy Star or LEED certification for their new construction or existing buildings. Hammack was also a consultant to the White House on the “greening” of the White House and Executive Office Building, leading the group focused on indoor environmental quality issues.

If confirmed, she will supervise the design, construction, operations, maintenance and management of Army installations. She would also be responsible for the Army’s environmental compliance and cleanup progress.


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  1. Andy Bochman Thu, 25 Mar 2010 02:56:24 GMT

    Burke’s nomination and testimony is a long delayed, but potential great step forward for DOD on energy matters. See more on this here: