Big Win for #ActOnTrucks

Today, EPA and DOT finalized greenhouse gas and fuel efficiency standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines and vehicles. This is the most comprehensive effort ever to improve fuel economy and cut greenhouse gas emissions from heavy duty vehicles; under this new rule, trucks will use about 37% less fuel to go a given distance. This is a great step towards decreasing our dependence on oil, reducing our impact on climate change, and ultimately making our nation safer.

Operation Free has been dedicated to the insuring the success of these standards throughout the proposal and finalization process. Below is a copy of testimony written and presented by Glenn Kunkel, United States Marine Corps veteran and Operation Free supporter, at a public hearing last fall in Chicago, Illinois.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to testify before you on the proposed standards for the new EPA regulations on medium and heavy-duty truck greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards. My name is Glenn Kunkel and I am a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and a member of Operation Free, a nationwide coalition of more than 5,000 veterans who advocate for securing America with clean energy. I applaud the Obama administration for proposing standards that will make our trucks cleaner and more efficient. I joined the military because I care deeply about our nation’s security and stability. I am here today because along with a consensus of senior military and national security experts, I believe that we face a serious threat to our national security: dependency on oil.

During my service in Iraq, as an advisor to the Iraqi Army, the logistics of fuel consumption were pivotal to our capabilities and security posture. The vehicles needed to establish tactical dominance were not fuel efficient in any environment, let alone a hostile environment.

This parallels the economic necessities of our nation, in that such a vast portion of goods are transported by truck. Just as we took numerous steps in Iraq to conserve and stretch our resources in order to accomplish our mission, similar steps should be taken to preserve and bolster the transportation industry’s efficiency to the point that our economic stability is less threatened. By reducing our oil consumption, we also mitigate a number of disruptions to our domestic security and stability –  including as the amount of C02 that that is dispersed in the atmosphere, and the resulting disruptions caused by increasingly severe weather patterns.

Reducing fuel consumption will also address the challenge of globally-capable extremist groups, who often profit from oil revenue. Most importantly, a cleaner, more sustainable and efficient United States critical to maintaining our current global posture, both in security capabilities as well as in economic stability.

Although trucks are only 7% of the total number of vehicles on the roads in America, they consume 25% of fuel. This marks a significant percent of emissions relative to the number of trucks on the road. With these new regulations, we will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil over the lifetime of the vehicles on the road—an important step in combatting oil dependency.

Like the rest of the country, the military is reliant on oil; this reliance puts our troops in harm’s way in a war zone. Everything from tanks to fighter jets to Humvees use oil, and delivering it on the battlefield is a dangerous job. In Afghanistan, 1 in every 24 fuel convoys ended with a casualty; oil trade routes slow, scheduled, and frequent, making them easy targets for the enemy. These rules benefit the military because developing more fuel efficient trucks means we will not have to refuel as frequently, which can be dangerous and costly in combat zones. Additionally, too much of our money for oil ends up in the hands of hostile countries and extremist fighters.

There are economic problems with oil, too. Global supply cannot keep up with demand. The price will keep going up, hitting all of us at the pump.  With this rule, vehicle owners will save an average of $170 billion in fuel costs over the lifetime of the vehicles sold. Increasing truck efficiency saves money, which will be reflected in the price of consumer goods. Furthermore, when the price of oil spikes, the military must repurpose funds away from training, maintenance, and readiness programs to offset the cost, putting missions at risk.

Additionally, the use of fossil fuels increases the likelihood of more troops being sent into harm’s way. As the Department of Defense’s recent Report on National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and a Changing Climate affirms, climate change is widely recognized as a “threat-multiplier.” Frequent and severe weather events destabilize some of the world’s most dangerous regions. This exacerbates existing national security threats by pushing already unstable states to near constant crisis. The United States is requested to respond to disasters every two weeks—a number likely to increase as the impacts of climate change become more acute.

While these new EPA regulations make great strides to mitigate the impacts of carbon emissions—such as reducing GHG emissions by 1 billion metric tons over the life of vehicles on the road—we must take further measures to reduce our oil dependency in the interest of national security. Analysis shows that with modern engineering capabilities, stronger standards could reduce trucks’ fuel use by 40% by 2025. Continued progress in environmental standards made by the EPA are vital to the well-being of our nation and the global community.

In raising our standards for greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency, we strengthen our national security by supporting the U.S. economy, increasing global stability, and sending fewer of our men and women into harm’s way. Once again, I applaud the administration for proposing standards to make our trucks more efficient. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today.


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