Veterans, Clean Energy and Common Sense

Another Veterans' Day is upon us, a time to reflect on our armed servicemen and women who are stationed around the world to protect us.  Many of these brave soldiers, sailors and marines have spent years serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, selflessly putting their lives on the line for their families, friends and fellow countrymen here at home.  While I honor their duty and courage, frankly I'm not happy that our nation's dependence on foreign oil is partly to blame for putting our soldiers in harm’s way.
There’s a growing consensus among our troops, military leaders and national security experts that one of the best things we can do to enhance our national security is to get off fossil fuels and transition to clean, home-grown energy.  If America shifts to renewable alternatives -- like wind, solar and geothermal -- we can significantly reduce our dangerous addiction to oil, which currently costs our country $1 billion per day.
That’s why I'm so glad that a group of veterans, led by Operation Free , launched a bus tour across America.  Their stated mission: promote clean energy! These vets, after serving our country overseas, volunteered to spend two weeks travelling through nearly 70 cities and towns in 22 states.  My NRDC colleague, Rocky Kistner, rode along on one of the buses and blogged about his experiences and observations along the way.  Here’s an excerpt from his last blog:

Although it was a grueling schedule with tight quarters at times, we developed a camaraderie that made the trip a rewarding experience. I also gained a special insight into why these veterans took the time to make this tour. All were motivated to help humanity deal with one of the most serious threats civilization has ever known. But there was also another important reason--no one wanted to put a single service member in harm's way due to the international security threats posed by climate change.

Looking back, I will remember most our stops at veterans' war memorials along the way. This was "hallowed ground," as Army vet Rafael Noboa described it, a testament to the lifelong service each veteran gives his or her country. Many said this tour was one of the most important battles of their military careers. It was an honor to serve beside them.

You can watch a video from the bus tour here (also on Rocky’s blog).


This week, the group launched a television ad campaign aimed at getting the Senate to pass a clean energy and climate bill.  The ads are airing in West Virginia, Indiana and Missouri.  (Previously, versions of this ad ran in Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia).  These ads coincide with a growing movement by veterans and security groups making a push on Capitol Hill to get a bill passed and on to President Obama for his signature.  Check out the ads:






This week also marks the release of NRDC President Frances Beinecke’s new book, Clean Energy Common Sense, in which she explains why America needs to move to clean energy to protect our planet and increase our national security.

In her book, Frances quotes leaders like four-star General Anthony Zinni (ret.), U.S. Navy Admiral Lee Gunn (ret.), and CIA Director Leon Panetta.  These are experts with unquestioned authority on national security and who know what it means to put young people on the front lines.  They know the price we pay due to our reliance on oil and the opportunity we have by shifting to a clean energy future.

Veterans of America, on a mission to support a clean energy future, we salute you!