Environment

A bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul would allow Fort Knox to continue producing natural gas to power the Army base.

Almost a year ago, Fort Knox became the first U.S. base to generate all of its own electricity. The move was spurred by the region’s 2009 ice storm; parts of Fort Knox lost power for nearly a week and highlighted the national security need for the base to become self-sufficient.

“It was pretty devastating, and Fort Knox was without power for upwards of seven days in some places,” Fort Knox Energy Manager R.J Dyrdek said in March.

The transition was helped by the discovery of natural gas reserves under the property. Now, Fort Knox is powered by a mixture of solar power, on-site natural gas and geothermal.

But developing natural gas resources on federal lands usually falls to the Department of the Interior. The bill introduced last week by Paul, a Republican, would make Fort Knox an exception and allow the Department of Defense to keep producing natural gas to power the site.

“Allowing the Department of Defense to produce natural gas at Fort Knox would not only be cost-effective for the government, but beneficial for the Fort Knox community,” Paul said in a news release.

Paul’s bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

Last year, Fort Knox officials projected $8 million in annual savings from reduced energy costs because of the move to self-sufficiency.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.