New Senate Bill Would Accelerate Pentagon Purchase of Non-Tactical Electric Vehicles

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III speaks with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren during Senate Armed Services Committee testimony on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations. (DoD photo by Chad J. McNeeley)

Updated 6/13/22 3:57 PM ET: After publication, it was announced that Senator Angus King, I-Maine, had also signed the bill. This story has been updated to reflect his inclusion.

WASHINGTON: Two Democratic senators plan to introduce legislation later today that would require the Department of Defense to aggressively accelerate its efforts to adopt more environmentally friendly vehicles.

The senses. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, plan to introduce the Military Vehicle Fleet Electrification Act, ambitious legislation that would require 75% of non-tactical vehicles purchased by the DoD to be electric or zero-emission vehicles as of the start of fiscal year 2023, which is October 1, 2022, according to the text of the invoice provided to Breaking Defense.

“Transitioning the military’s fleet of non-tactical vehicles to electric vehicles or other zero-emission vehicles would have a significant impact on U.S. government greenhouse gas emissions,” Warren said in a statement. . “It’s an effective solution that helps us address the climate crisis and prepare the military for the future.”

Both Warren and Hirono serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Senate-proposed legislation will accompany a House bill introduced in April by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Service Committee’s preparedness subcommittee.

The Army has already shown interest in all-electric and hybrid vehicles for its non-tactical and tactical vehicles, not only because of their environmental benefits, but also because of the operational benefits that include the ability to move more silently.

Related: Army’s new climate strategy targets microgrids and tactical electric vehicles

The proposed legislation applies to cars, vans and light trucks that the department buys or leases itself, or leases from the General Services Administration. The Department of Defense currently has an inventory of over 174,000 non-tactical vehicles.

The legislation allows the department to build electric charging stations at its facilities and would require the DoD to use only non-proprietary, interoperable charging ports and connectors. The bill also requires that electric batteries come from the United States or its allies, and not from “hostile countries” like China or Russia.

The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, DR.I., Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine.

“We have a responsibility — as a nation and within our military — to make thoughtful purchases that respond to the climate crisis,” Garamendi said when introducing the House legislation. “Transitioning the military’s huge fleet of internal combustion-engine passenger cars, light trucks and vans to American-made, zero-emission electric vehicles is a sensible way to reduce emissions. Greenhouse effect.”

The new legislation is endorsed by several environmental groups, including Securing America’s Future Energy (SAFE), National Electrical Contractors Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Mining Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and E2 (Environmental Contractors).

In December of last year, the Biden administration’s federal sustainability plan revealed that the Pentagon is responsible for 56% of the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The Department of Defense is currently investigating hybrid and all-electric technology for future battlefield use. The Army’s climate plan, released earlier this year, targets an all-electric, non-tactical fleet by 2035. It also targets an all-electric, lightweight, non-tactical vehicle fleet by 2027. The service wants all-electric tactical vehicles by 2050.

The Army has several ongoing research efforts with hybrid electric drive for tactical vehicles. Later this year, the service plans to test the performance of its first Bradley hybrid combat vehicle in Arizona. It also has electrification work underway for Humvees and Joint Light Tactical Vehicles.

One of the biggest challenges the military faces in electrifying its tactical fleet is sending tactical reload capabilities to the battlefield. The Army’s climate strategy indicates that the service wants to develop a tactical recharging solution by 2050.

The Pentagon has over 250,000 tactical vehicles in its inventory, over 75,000 more than the non-tactical fleet.

Norman D. Briggs