Adam Cote, an officer in the 133rd Maine National Guard who also served in Iraq speaks at the Portland, Maine town hall.

Article and photos by Ramona du Houx

June 13, 2010

Top retired military leaders and veterans, along with local elected officials, held a Town Hall meeting to discuss the connection between climate change and national security, and call for passage of comprehensive climate and energy legislation. The conference room which held the event, at the Portland Library, was filled to capacity.

The group that organized the event calls their mission Operation Free. They are a coalition of veterans and national security organizations dedicated to securing America with clean energy.

“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 who fought in Iraq. “Everyday.”

Some profits from oil sales in America goes to fund terrorism around the world. This fact led the Defense Department to call climate change a threat to national security.

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.

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State Rep. Cornell du Houx of Brunswick, Marine Veteran spoke at the town hall in Portland, Maine. In this photo, he and other Operation Veterans hold a press conference at the Whitehouse. Photo by Ramona du Houx

“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 State Rep. Cornell du Houx of Brunswick. “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.”

Adam Cote, an officer in the 133rd Maine National Guard who also served in Iraq, is the senior Vice President of Global Relief Technologies, a company that helps counties like Haiti with relief efforts. He also is involved in alternative technologies in Maine such as thermal heaters, which heat and cool homes with electricity.

7cd1c21bf7462ac1-wdsc_0303-300x204Operation Free’s bus. Photo by Ramona du Houx

“Maine is eighty 80 percent reliant on fossil fuels to heat homes, it’s the largest dependency in America,” said Cote. “We also have the largest renewable energy portfolio in the nation. 40% of the energy that goes to power our lights comes from renewable sources. This growth in our economy, here in Maine, won’t continue without support from Congress. We need Congress to act, we need the American Power Act.”

The American Power Act was introduced by US Senator John Kerry, and US Sen. Joe Lieberman last month and President Obama would like to see it enacted before Congress recesses.

“This should be a bipartisan issue. I hope you will join with those of us you sent to war to gain energy independence for the United States of America. Call Sen. Collins and Sen. Snowe and tell them to stop funding terrorism and defend America by supporting the American Power Act,” said Major General Don Edwards, US Army.“ We need this legislation now, it may not be perfect but it will be a major first step.”

Learn more at http://www.OperationFree.net . Operation Free is an advocacy campaign of the Truman National Security.

Disclaimer Alex Cornell du Houx is the reporters son.