Source: The News-Enterprise
Fort Knox’s energy independence was secured in the 2019 federal defense policy bill passed Thursday by the U.S. House of Representatives.
Kentucky lawmakers worked to insert language into the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act to allow Fort Knox to continue producing natural gas. The $716 billion authorization bill also includes a 2.6 percent pay raise for service members and $26 million for a digital air/ground integration range at Fort Knox.
The local post overhauled its energy program after the 2009 ice storm. Starting in 2015, it has used its own energy resources to power the post and is no longer dependent on the power grid. It was the first military installation to do so. The energy program is expected to save the Army about $8 million annually.
A round of service contracts was expiring and the program required a legislative fix to continue operating, according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie’s office.
The Bowling Green Republican and U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul worked with the Departments of Defense, Army and Interior, and congressional committees to ensure the provision was included in the final NDAA.
“This has allowed Fort Knox to become energy independent when needed, preparing the base in the event of another emergency,” Guthrie said in a statement. “With the help of Leader McConnell and Senator Paul, Secretary Zinke, the Army, the Armed Forces Committees and the Natural Resources Committees, we were able to get this done.”
Jim Iacocca, director of the Knox Regional Development Alliance, praised the legislation in a statement.
“The Fort Knox energy security program is a leader among other branches of the military and a boon to the Fort Knox area,” he said. “We want to thank the Kentucky congressional delegation for spearheading this effort to include this legislation in this year’s NDAA. We look forward to seeing Fort Knox continue to grow as a result of this legislation.”
McConnell said Fort Knox continues to play an essential role in the nation’s defense and he was proud to promote the installation’s energy security and self-sufficiency.
“As Congress continues its work to support our men and women in uniform, I am pleased that we accomplished this priority for Kentucky and our nation’s security,” he said, thanking Guthrie, Paul and leaders in the Departments of Defense, Army and Interior.
Paul and Guthrie previously have introduced legislation designed to protect the energy program.
“This provision, much like my previously introduced amendments on this issue, will allow the U.S. Department of Defense to continue producing natural gas at Fort Knox,” Paul said in a statement. “I look forward to its passage and hope Fort Knox can continue to lead the way in cost-effectiveness and ingenuity when it comes to natural gas development and sustainability.”
The Senate is expected to vote on the authorization bill this week. Other provisions in the bill are aimed at supporting military readiness and investing in missile defense and nuclear deterrents.
“Our military must be ready to face any number of threats around the world,” Guthrie said. “This year’s NDAA improves our military readiness and supports our troops. We ask our servicemen and women to put their lives on the line for us, and we must make sure they have the best care we can provide for them. I look forward to seeing this bill signed into law.”