“We are a coalition of veterans and national security organizations that have come together because we believe national security and climate change are related. We need to take control of our energy future for our national security,” said Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, a spokesman of Operation Free at a White House press conference.
A coalition connecting climate change to national security
By Darren Fishell
January 3, 2010
“The Pentagon has declared our dependency on foreign fuels a security threat,” said President Barack Obama during a press conference last November. “Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are traveling the county as part of Operation Free, campaigning to end our dependence on oil.”
Some of those veterans traveled from Montana to Maine on a biodiesel bus tour, talking about the dangers climate change poses to national security. After 21 states and 72 cities, they completed the bus tour at Bowdoin College in Brunswick. There, Operation Free members were joined by officials, members of Repower Maine, and close to 200 supporters.
“We are a coalition of veterans and national security organizations that have come together because we believe national security and climate change are related. We need to take control of our energy future for our national security,” said Rep. Alexander Cornell du Houx, a spokesman of Operation Free.
With the threat of ocean levels rising, droughts, and mammoth storms, countries could become destabilized. The CIA, the Pentagon, and leading international organizations have concluded that climate change is a national security risk.
“The ecological effects of climate change can cause drought, famine, and migration shifts, which create refugees,” said Cornell du Houx. “It’s a threat multiplier.”
America’s dependency on foreign oil is continuing to put American solders at risk.
In Iraq IEDs, roadside bombs, are the most common threat to American troops. During a mission, Marine Sergeant Cornell du Houx was suddenly jolted from his seat in an armored vehicle which had been struck by an IED.
“Luckily, the farmer that placed the IED wasn’t experienced. He was displaced because of the war. He could not farm, so he was easily recruited by terrorists for a couple hundred dollars,” said Rep. Cornell du Houx. “I remember seeing trucks and cars waiting in line for gas and diesel in 130ºF. When curfew time came, we had to break up the line. A riot ensued. These people were so desperate, they risked their lives for that single source of energy. The same source we as a nation are dependent on.”
“We don’t want to continue to put our young men and women in harm’s way to fight over oil,” said Governor John Baldacci. “These veterans are leading the charge to fight back.”
That fight has also led members of Operation Free to lobby the Senate for a comprehensive climate change bill, and to Copenhagen in support of an international climate change treaty.
“In July of 2009, according to the Energy Information Administration. We bought, every single day, over one million barrels of oil from Saudi Arabia,” said Maine veteran Andrew Campbell. “Everyday.”
Operation Free promotes the use of solar, wind, and other alternative technologies that would diminish and could eventually replace oil usage. Maine is on that road with Governor Baldacci’s push for the state to become an alternative-energy producer.
“We have the power and innovation needed to become independent of foreign fuels,” said the governor. “Together we can take the action needed.”
Veteran Mike Breen said, “American ingenuity has not failed us to this day. Technological innovation, skilled labor, and self-sufficiency are American core values. We can end our dependency on oil.” According to Breen, a fraction of what we spend at the gas pumps goes into bullets that find their way into the hands of terrorists. “Then those bullets are fired right back at our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
On June 26, the United States House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.
U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said, “The passing of that bill was one of my favorite moments of my freshman year in Congress. Were it not for our dependence on foreign oil, we never would have gotten involved in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will to do something about this. We want to take energy issues into our own hands. We can do this together.”
With an international treaty forged in Copenhagen and an Environmental Protection Agency report declaring that human activity is a root cause of global warming, it’s hopeful that the U.S. Senate will pass its version of the climate change bill.
“We can take charge of our security. We can take charge of our energy future. We can take charge by setting the direction for other countries to follow around the world,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud. “We have the power to begin change this year in the United States Congress, but we must push the U.S. Senate in the right direction for clean American power.”
Operation Free members asked the audience to take political action to help the progress of the bill in the Senate, by calling or writing Maine’s senators.
“It doesn’t matter what political party you are with. Everybody wants America to be secure; we need to take back our energy future,” said Army Iraq veteran Robin Eckstein.