If you spend any time on the websites of the leading defense contractors with the U.S. Department of Defense – Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon Technologies, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman – you will notice a common theme. Each of the above corporations, and many others receiving contracts from the military budget, have a page outlining their commitment to green initiatives and sustainable environmental practices.
So, a new rule proposed by the Biden administration, the Federal Supplier Risks and Resilience Rule, that would compel defense contractors to disclose their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, should not stir up much controversy. After all, it is in line with the stated commitments of these defense corporations themselves. Specifically, the regulation would require:
- Federal Contractors making between $7.5 million and $50 million (considered Significant Contractors) to report Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.
- Scope 1 emissions indicate emissions directly caused by resources owned by the corporation itself.
- Scope 2 are indirect emissions caused by energy the corporation has purchased from another supplier.
- In addition to the above regulations, Major contractors – any contractor receiving more than $50 million from the federal government – would also be required to disclose Scope 3 emissions, which covers any additional emissions indirectly caused by the corporation at any point in its value chain.
- Major contractors would also be required to work with several federal task forces to both evaluate climate-based financial risks and set emission reduction targets in line with the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050.
These standards apply to all U.S. federal contractors, not only those in the defense sector, but a breakdown of defense spending disbursed to defense contractors over the last 5 years comes to an average of $396 billion per year , over 6% of the estimated average $6.218 trillion total federal budget over that same 5-year period. Additionally, the 5 defense contractors listed above account for all 5 of the largest federal contracts, based on data from the 2021 fiscal year. It makes sense that the Biden administration would want them held to federal emissions regulations.
Despite vocal support of the policy from numerous contractors and corporations , the proposal has received pushback from some Republicans. A letter, signed by 16 sitting Republican senators, presents its concerns on defense contractors and the “significant regulatory burdens” they would experience through the enactment of the Biden Administration’s Federal Supplier Risks and Resilience Rule. Notably, all but one of the 16 have received direct campaign contributions during their most recent Senate campaign from Chevron,   who share several executives and directors with Lockheed Martin:
- Marillyn Hewson
- 2013-2020 – Lockheed Martin, CEO
- 2020-2022 – Lockheed Martin, Strategic Advisor to the CEO
- 2020-present – Chevron, Board of Directors 
- Patricia Yarrington
- 2009-2019 – Chevron, CFO
- 2021-present – Lockheed Martin, Board of Directors 
- Debra Reed-Klages
- 2018-present – Chevron, Board of Directors
- 2019-present – Lockheed Martin, Board of Directors 
While Lockheed Martin (and other defense contractors) have so far been silent on the Federal Supplier Risks and Resilience Rule, Chevron has directly contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates who have taken an explicit stance against the policy, as noted above. Additionally, while the emission estimates of Lockheed Martin and other defense contractors are unavailable, Chevron itself was listed 23rd on the Political Economy Research Institute’s Greenhouse 100 Polluters Index, contributing 22,312,152 CO2 equivalent metric tons of emissions, based on 2020 data. 
If these defense contractors and corporations stand by their own claims and commitments to environmental justice and green initiatives, the Federal Supplier Risks and Resilience Rule should present a helpful and obvious guideline for these contractors and corporations to practice. These standards will not prove difficult to implement – with task forces already in place, and “more than half of major Federal contractors already disclosing climate-related information,” according to the White House’s own post on the subject. 
Resistance by politicians receiving large donations from corporations that stand to face any amount of additional cost in following these practices also stands opposed to the maintenance of a livable planet. The proposed policy already has structures in place to assist in following the protocols set out in the Federal Suppliers Risk and Resilience Rule, and the amount of additional time and money necessary for these defense contractors and corporations claiming to have rigorous green initiatives should not prove too great a burden.
“Large defense contractors are some of the country’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters. And they are doing it with our money—because everything they do is paid for with our tax dollars. So, the Biden Administration’s proposed rule requiring these companies to simply disclose their greenhouse gas emissions is both smart and necessary. We have the right to know what these contractors are doing in our name, and with our money—-especially if it’s damaging the environment.
“But these contractors don’t like sunlight, and they don’t like anything that threatens their profits. And they know that when we have information about their greenhouse gas emissions, we may well use it to expose their polluting practices and demand more responsible corporate behavior from them. So, they are mounting the customary lobbying effort—stuffing campaign money into friendly political pockets– to resist Biden’s proposed rule. Those taking the cash to lead the resistance must themselves be exposed; no responsible elected official can oppose a rule requiring a corporation–polluting with taxpayer money–to simply make public how much pollution it is causing.
“The rule must be enacted. Now,” says environmental lawyer Shawn Collins.
It is time for politicians and corporations to stand on the right side of history and work with the scientists and governments behind the Paris Climate Agreement to move towards a future that is truly sustainable. Anything else would be too great a cost.
Blog by Thomas Sheridan