Vice Admiral Lee Gunn advocates energy efficiency to ensure national security


Charlie Pearce

Vice Admiral Lee Gunn speaks about national security and overdependence on fossil fuels in the Bass Lecuture Hall on Monday evening. 

Matthew Hart

Vice Admiral Lee Gunn works with legislators around the country and recently retired national security leaders around the globe to facilitate discussion on how the U.S. can grow its economy and increase national security by becoming more energy efficient and diversifying its energy portfolio. 

Gunn spoke about national security threats resulting from climate change and America’s over-dependence on fossil fuels at a talk hosted by the LBJ School of Public Affairs. He is president of the Institute for Public Research for the Center of Naval Analyses and served in the U.S. Navy for 35 years.

Gunn said his personal view is that directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing is used in a environmentally and ecologically responsible manner that allows the U.S. economy to benefit.

“If we don’t put the emphasis that we need to on education, research and developmental work that will allow us to play a rightful role in the development of the new energy economy, then the rest of the world is going to pass us by and I don’t think that is something we can afford to allow happen,” Gunn said.

Gunn said the thorniest problem for the defense department is transportation fuels. 

“The defense department now is the largest single user in the United States of fuel and price volatility is an important issue the defense department has to deal with on a regular basis,” Gunn said. “When we used to have aircraft carriers that were conventionally powered, they would carry four million gallons of fuel and they would refuel every four or five days. We are an energy-intensive business.”

Graduate student Oscar Garcia III said it was refreshing to hear from a military expert about energy-related issues. 

“Political will seems like one of the main points in his talk, I think,” Garcia said. “Many governors … have that climate change-denying attitude and it’s unfortunate.”

The Center for Naval Analyses is a research organization providing in-depth analysis and solutions for government leaders and looks at energy through a national security lens, according to Gunn. He said he is concerned there will not be leaders to replace the intellectual giants such as former UT professor Dan Gentle who mentored young minds in the area of renewable energy.

“Like so many other things in our country, our enthusiasm for fusion energy waxes and wanes,” Gunn said. “There is less excitement about the U.S. role — therefore, competitiveness — in what ultimately may be the silver bullet in energy for the world.”

Printed on Tuesday, March 26, 2013 as: Vice admiral fears energy crisis