Guest Commentary: National Security Demands a “NO” Vote on Upcoming EPA Delay Legislation
By Jack Inacker
It might seem strange to think of the Environmental Protection Agency as an organization working to strengthen our national security. However, with its recent efforts to reduce dependence on oil and combat climate change, the EPA is doing just that.
The EPA is helping to stop the flow of oil funding to extremist organizations and reducing the chance that climate change could create breeding grounds for terrorists who wish to do our nation harm. In light of the EPA’s contribution to our nation’s security at home and abroad, upcoming efforts in Congress to paralyze the EPA are reckless, shortsighted, and dangerous, and I urge Senator Casey to strongly oppose them.
As a proud veteran who served my country for six years in the US Air Force, I am used to following my chain of command. And so last year, when the Department of Defense identified climate change and oil dependence as threats to our national security, I sat up and paid attention.
It is no secret that our dependence on foreign oil funds the terrorists we are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. The more oil we use here at home and at our military posts overseas, the more money ends up as IEDs and AK-47s in the hands of the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Furthermore, the aftermath of the massive flooding in Pakistan last year underscores the Department of Defense’s decision to identify climate change as a strategic threat to our national security. As the Pakistani government continues to have trouble delivering aid and assistance to the flood-stricken areas, extremists and terrorists have stepped into the void and gained even greater support for their organizations. If climate change is allowed to proceed unhindered, there is an even greater potential for the droughts, floods, and other catastrophic weather events that destabilize already vulnerable countries and create terrorist breeding grounds.
The threats posed by our oil dependence and climate change may be a topic of debate in Congress, but to the Department of Defense, they are crystal clear. The DOD has taken the lead in developing and implementing new clean energy technology, with every branch of the military following suit. The Navy is shooting to sail a carrier strike group – the “Great Green Fleet” – purely on biofuels by 2016. The Army and Marine Corps are investing in deployable solar generators to cut our use of diesel on the front lines. The Coast Guard is developing tidal energy projects to power remote stations and reduce its dependence on the civilian electrical grid. And the Air Force recently tested an A-10 “Warthog” aircraft running on a blend of fuel derived from camelina oil and conventional JP-8 jet fuel.
The military’s urgency in reducing our oil dependence and minimizing our contribution to climate change demonstrates the crucial role our energy policy plays in our national security strategy. The lives of our troops depend on it. Unfortunately, big-moneyed special interests in Washington are standing in the way of real advances in clean energy because they are invested in the status quo. Their latest scheme involves various pieces of legislation that would limit the EPA’s ability to limit carbon pollution or set emissions standards for automobiles.
This is the worst possible time for this type of legislation. If Congress bows to pressure from Big Coal and Big Oil – with their armies of lobbyists and back-room methods – America will take a step backward in our progress toward becoming a world leader in clean energy. Even a bill like Senator Jay Rockefeller’s, that sets a two-year delay on EPA regulation, would be disastrous for our efforts to combat climate change. Two years is far too long to allow pollution to spew into the air unchecked – the threat to our security is just too serious to ignore. With troops still on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, now is not the time for America to take a step backward – away from the clean energy technology that will reduce dependence on oil and save American lives down the road.
I urge my fellow veterans and other concerned citizens to contact Senator Casey and ask him to oppose this legislation – in order to say no to Big Oil and stand up for our men and women in uniform serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. After everything they have sacrificed to keep Pennsylvania safe, it is the least we can do in return.
Jack Inacker is a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Pennsylvania Military Roundtable. He has been active in Operation Free, a group of veterans working to reduce dependence on oil and combat climate change. He served six years in the US Air Force as a nuclear weapons systems specialist, and lives in Philadelphia.