• Truman Doctrine: 7 Real Consequences of Climate Change as told by the Pentagon

    Since the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Department of Defense has declared global climate change a “threat multiplier,” exacerbating the challenges the U.S. military faces at home and abroad. Check out the seven examples below, and then be sure to read the DoD’s 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap—a new Pentagon plan for adapting to and mitigating these serious security issues.

    1. More frequent and intense severe weather abroad will require disaster relief efforts, increasing requests for U.S. assistance.

    Disaster relief efforts are a key way that the U.S. military helps others and builds national credibility abroad. According to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, the DoD already receives one request for humanitarian assistance every two weeks. An increase in the number of these missions—like 5,000 sailors and 80 aircraft providing relief after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines or 9,000 patients treated and 3.5 million tons of cargo distributed to the victims of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake—will spread forces and resources thin around the globe.

    2. Prolonged droughts here at home will affect base operations, decreasing the readiness of our troops.

    Millions of Americans have already felt firsthand the effects of longer and more extreme droughts, and the military is no exception. Essential training exercises that involve live ammunition have been suspended for months on end due to fire risk, meaning that troops are not getting the preparation they need. Moreover, U.S. Northern Command has had to redirect personnel and resources to countering wildfires that threaten civilian populations at home.

    3.  Scarce resources will threaten to collapse weak governments, strengthening extremist groups.

    Photo Credit: Mohamed Othman

    Unfortunately, the governments most likely to be affected by climate change are those least equipped to handle the consequences. Current conflicts in Mali, Yemen, and Somalia, demonstrate that extremist groups can gain a foothold in weak states when they provide basic services to poor populations. This “radical altruism” of groups like the Afghan Taliban explains how destitute populations are willing to tolerate—at least initially—very draconian social agendas in exchange for sanitation, food and clean water, and even a basic framework for the rule of law.

    4.  Warming temperatures will increase the range of tropical diseases, spurring more global health crises.

    At least 4,000 people around the world have already died from the recent Ebola outbreak. However, rising temperatures and changing rain patterns are allowing subtropical diseases like Dengue Fever, West Nile Virus, and Lyme disease to expand beyond their traditional regions, and the World Health Organization estimates that a global temperature increase of just 2 or 3 degrees could lead to several hundred million more people being at risk for Malaria. As the U.S. military is essential for disease-mitigation relief efforts, this will be a substantial burden.

    5.  Changing weather patterns will spur migration, sparking increased sectarian conflict and increasing urban poverty.

    Changing weather patterns are affecting diverse populations, including coastal residents who want to move inland and rural poor who seek the economic opportunities of city life. In Pakistan, farmers are flocking to cities as their land becomes unusable, while Bangladesh could see as many as 18 million residents displaced by 2050. Climate change has been linked to migration, and the internal movement of large numbers of people will test the infrastructure of cities and the ability of governments to provide economic opportunities for new arrivals.

    6.  Rising ocean tides and other climate change consequences will damage military facilities here, costing an already budget-constrained military millions of dollars in mitigation efforts.

    A 2008 National Intelligence Council report indicated that more than 30 of our military sites will require significant adaptation measures to stave off the effects of rising sea levels alone. Necessary construction so far has included reinforcing foundations, building taller piers, and constructing barriers on land and out at sea. Thankfully, steps are being taken to mitigate this problem; bases are working with community leaders to find comprehensive solutions.


    7.  Melting in Polar Regions will open new sea lines of communication (SLOCs), prompting international competition for Arctic resources.

    Levels of Arctic Sea ice have been in decline since 1979, with melts coming sooner and freezes not covering as much geographic area as usual.  Russia’s claims of sovereignty over the rapidly expanding Northern Sea Route set the stage for further tension with the United States and European Union given the commercial benefits of a shortened passage. Moreover, melting also opens up more strategic points and passages that the Navy and Coast Guard will be required to patrol in order to protect U.S. shipping interests.

  • Your Opportunity to Secure our Future

    Take a look around the world. Everywhere you turn you’ll find a geopolitical mess at the intersection of energy, climate change, and global security. From airstrikes on oil fields and refineries in Iraq and Syria controlled by the Islamic State to natural gas crises in Ukraine and the European Union compromising negotiations with Vladimir Putin to flooding in heavily disputed Kashmir, the stakes for our energy and climate future have never been higher.

    Concerns like these are what brought hundreds of thousands of climate activists to New York to voice their support for climate action. They were joined by more than 125 other heads of state, more than 100 CEOs from businesses all over the world like McDonald’s and Ikea, and celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Mark Ruffalo.

    There’s just one problem: Without your help, none of it will matter.

    It’s been more than two decades since the United States helped negotiate the first climate change treaty, which was never ratified by Congress. Since then, the record of international climate agreements has been abysmal. Talks in the The Hague fell short in 2000, Copenhagen negotiations collapsed in 2009, and Durban disappointed in 2011. Over and over, the leaders of countries have proved unable or unwilling to tackle our biggest climate challenges.

    That’s increasingly a problem for global security, according to our military leaders. As global temperatures rise and weather patterns become increasingly volatile, we can expect that natural disasters will only escalate in number and intensity. Disasters like Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines leave already vulnerable populations in even more dire need for basic goods and services- things which their governments are often unable to provide.

    The problem is not unique to the Philippines — one instigating factor of the genocide in Darfur was the severe drought that ravaged the land historically shared between nomadic Arab herdsmen and indigenous famers. The competition over shrinking resources for grazing and farming contributed to a massive humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

    In short, climate change is a catalyst of conflict, exacerbating already unstable situations in deeply divided societies. Terrorist organizations view natural disasters as opportunities to recruit and radicalize these populations when they are most vulnerable. As a result, climate-driven crises pose an acute national security threat to the United States, forcing our men and women in uniform to respond to natural disasters around the world and diverting them from the military’s primary objectives — keeping us safe and winning wars.

    We know the only way to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change in the future is to make serious investments in clean energy technology and deployment today. Of course, you won’t be surprised to learn that Congress hasn’t been very helpful. Since comprehensive climate legislation failed in 2009, Congress has been more harmful than helpful to the clean energy sector. That hasn’t stopped clean energy companies here at home from adding nearly 80,000 jobs and 80 percent of new power capacity in 2013. But as long as the national political scene is a partisan swamp, working out the dynamics for international negotiations will be an immense challenge.

    We need to change the way we power our economies, turning to renewable sources, efficiency, demand response, electricity storage, and a host of other technologies and business models that will reduce our carbon emissions. We need a vibrant, dynamic clean energy economy that is providing for the enormous energy needs of developed countries like our own and bring solar power to emerging economies, like climate-conflict ravaged Mali.

    The real action is happening in states, cities and local communities. One decidedly positive thing did happen in New York last month: more than 200 cities signed a “Compact of Mayors” laying out specific targets and strategies for reducing their carbon emissions. As Mayor Bill de Blasio noted in his opening speech, “the energy we use in our homes, schools, workplaces, stores and public facilities accounts for nearly three-quarters of our contribution to climate change. But we can upgrade our buildings to make them more energy efficient and reduce these emissions. With this work, we can make our homes more affordable, improve the quality of our air and create a thriving market for energy efficiency and renewable energy-with new jobs and new businesses.”

    Mayor Greg Ballard of Indianapolis, a Republican and retired Marine, is leading his city to become the first to get its entire vehicle fleet off oil. He’s turning to electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, because he’s concerned our dependence on oil compromises our national security. You can push your city leaders to do the same. Companies like American Efficient are helping businesses and consumers make more informed energy choices, and services like Ride Scout can help you identify the best form of public transportation for where you need to go.

    By taking action, you’ll be driving the demand for the clean energy economy we need. After seeing decades of half-measures and halting negotiations, it’s clear that solutions will have to be community-driven.

     Michael Wu is the Energy Program Director for the Truman National Security Project and Center for National Policy, specializing in the connection between energy and national security. This piece was originally featured in the Huffington Post.

  • Roll Call: A Veteran’s Perspective: Congress Must Not Threaten Climate Leadership

    This piece was originally featured on Roll Call.

    I joined the military so I could serve my country and defend the values that define the American way of life. Active leadership of the United States on the world stage has proven essential to solving the great global challenges of the past.

    As a nation, we have proved time and time again our ability to act outside of narrow self-interest in order to confront threats to global security, restore peace, and preserve equal opportunity for all.

    In the last century, the greatest generation halted expanding tyranny during World War II. In the wake of the destruction following that epic conflict, the United States rebuilt a world grounded in the principles of freedom and democracy. In doing so, the men and women of our grandparents’ generation understood that America’s strength and security is inextricably intertwined with the fate of all nations.

    However, as President Barack Obama noted in his recent address to the graduating class of West Point, the world is changing at an accelerating pace. While technology and information brings us closer together as a global community, our strength and security is challenged by new threats that transcend national borders.

    The need for American leadership to confront these new challenges has never been more pressing. Today, we face a creeping threat that has the potential to undermine all of our efforts towards global security: climate change.

    Climate change is the silent enemy in the defining challenge of this century to defend the world’s most vulnerable populations from extremism. The effects of climate change take many forms, among them rising sea levels, resource scarcity, and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events like droughts, storms and floods.

    These environmental shifts are exacerbating every struggle for security, reducing economic opportunity and accelerating instability from the Middle East to Africa to the Pacific Rim. These changes will test the strength of government institutions and the will of the international community to protect those populations that are most vulnerable to destabilization.

    During my deployments, I saw firsthand the violence and chaos that occurs when some of the most impoverished places in the world are destabilized by conflict. The strong prey upon the weak. Civil society breaks down, replaced by extremism. Nations break into tribes, and tribes turn upon each other. The most vulnerable inevitably bear the brunt of the conflict.

    Extremism naturally finds a foothold where environmental stressors and weak governance have already created a vacuum of power. All too often, this void is filled by non-state actors who provide basic services in exchange for promoting ideologies that spread chaos and violence. And if we as a country have learned anything over the past fifteen years, it is that events halfway around the globe have a direct impact on our security at home.

    It is undeniable that climate change puts the future of global stability and strength of democratic institutions at risk. These impacts exacerbate challenges to the values America has worked hard to promote around the world, and we must act to counter them.

    This is why the EPA’s Clean Power Plan is so critical: The fight begins with a robust strategy to curb emissions here at home. America’s leadership is critical to inspiring the efforts of other global players.

    There is no shortage of naysayers — particularly in Congress — who stubbornly insist that action here at home is irrelevant so long as other nations, such as China and India, continue to pollute. This view is as self-indulgent as it is shortsighted. No nation catalyzes global action better than the United States. We not only have an obligation to act, but also to lead all nations to act.

    Next year, we will have an opportunity to create a binding international agreement as the world comes together for another round of international climate negotiations at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, France. The United States must come to the table both ready to take action, and serve as a strong moral and practical example. The world is watching to see if this is just a meaningless political maneuver or a pivot to serious American action on a critical issue.

    This is why it is imperative that all Americans engage in this process and demonstrate strong support for the standard’s successful implementation. Some in Congress — including Sens. Mitch McConnell and James M. Inhofe — have already signaled their intentions to torpedo this smart move by means of a Congressional Review Act report. Any further efforts to delay and perhaps even invalidate the new standard before it has a chance to produce positive results would be self-serving political posturing.

    It is up to mainstream America to push back against these naysayers who would abdicate American leadership. Climate change is a monumental threat recognized by leaders in science and defense — traditionally two of America’s strongest suits. The EPA’s Clean Power Plan is the first step in a long fight, and Americans must demand action and stave off congressional interference so that we can step up to one of the greatest global challenges of our generation.

    Adam Tiffen is a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council and a veteran of three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a co-founder of Tri-Star Collaborative, a firm specializing in sustainable development in emerging markets and post-conflict environments.

  • How Climate Change Affects Terrorism

    This post was originally featured on Defense One.

    According to the Obama Administration’s newly releasedNational Climate Assessment, climate change is already impacting communities in every corner of the country, with an increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events – storms, floods, and droughts – and rising sea levels destabilizing the everyday lives of Americans.

    Worse, the impacts of these changes are accelerating, and they are affecting communities around the world. The Pentagon’s most recent Quadrennial Defense Review warns that “climate change may increase the frequency, scale and complexity of future missions.” Some of the least stable states in the world will face changing weather patterns that reduce arable land and fresh-water supplies, in turn driving mass-migration, provoking resource conflicts, and fostering global health threats.

    As a former Army officer, I have seen firsthand how “climate disruption” puts more of my fellow soldiers at greater risk. Both the creeping effects of climate change, producing gradual shifts over time, as well as the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters pose unique threats to global security.

    Urban poverty is a major driver of terrorism, and climate-based migrations from disappearing coastal communities are likely to cause huge influxes in city populations around the world over the coming decades. Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated states in the world, could see up to 18 million people displaced by 2050.

    Competition for resources have been a fundamental driver in human conflict for centuries. States in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia have all already experienced varying levels of conflict and diplomatic tensions over access to freshwater resources. Moreover, rising saltwater levels in irrigation-dependent regions like the Mekong Delta in Vietnam threaten the food supplies of millions of people.

    Global health is at risk, too. Rising temperatures are expanding the range of deadly diseases once confined to relatively small subtropical geographic areas. Instances of Dengue, a mosquito-borne virus with flulike symptoms, have been on the rise in Florida and Texas. Alarmingly, the increase in instances of Dengue in the United States have not come from travelers returning to the U.S. from abroad; instead, the disease’s indigenous zone is expanding due to increased heat and rainfall.

    Ultimately, the disenfranchised and destitute are more likely to resort to violence as a means of finding income and creating purpose. High-profile security threats like the situations in Mali, Yemen, and Somalia all serve as clear examples of extremists gaining footholds in volatile societies; a central government that cannot provide for the basic needs of its people will only be more impotent in the face of climate-based challenges.

    Yet these gradual shifts in weather patterns – while incontrovertibly causing serious change over time – are not even the most immediate threat to international stability. Natural disasters, increasing in both number and severity, are posing a greater risk at home and abroad.

    Whether after Typhoon Haiyan in the Phillipines or New York City following Hurricane Sandy, helping those in need after tragedy strikes is a responsible way to uphold America’s moral leadership and build co-operation between nations. However, in a budget-constrained environment, any increase in the number of disasters is certain to stretch thin our military’s resources and divert attention from its primary mission.

    Yet every humanitarian challenge that goes unanswered by the United States presents an opportunity for extremist groups to curry favor with communities; providing relief is a classic strategy of those seeking to implement radical social agendas.  Groups in Syria, Pakistan, and Myammar have all endeared themselves to local populations via providing supplies, protection, and social structure at the cost of assuming moral authority.

    The threats to our collective security are as abundant as they are clear. While civilian debate on climate change drags on, the U.S. military has taken the lead in preparing to both adapt and react to climate-based challenges. Our security professionals understand that continued dependence on fossil fuels and willful scientific ignorance is not an option for a nation with major clout on the world stage.

    This century must be a century of innovation, both in technology and policy. The NCA report is clear:  there are no winners in a worst-case scenario, because climate change will impact us all. We need to take more aggressive action, and the time for American global leadership by way of comprehensive climate legislation is now.

    This is the only hope we have of staving off the worst impacts of climate change. If we fail to take immediate action, we risk destabilizing the world to a point where it cannot sustain the peace and democracy we worked so hard to build. And that is the most serious long-term security threat we face.

    Jon Gensler is a former Army Officer who served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.He is a fellow with the Truman National Security Project and currently lives and works in New York City as an adaptive leadership consultant with Cambridge Leadership Associates

  • Jon Gensler’s Testimony: Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change

    In December of 2007, I stood not far from [the Capitol], across the Mall, across the Memorials, over in Arlington National Cemetery, and laid to rest Captain Ben Tiffner, a fellow West Virginian, a classmate and Special Forces officer in the US Army.

    Three months later, nearly 6 years ago to the day, I stood at attention in the West Point Cemetery as Captain Torre Mallard was laid to rest in a similar fashion.

    Both of these mean had been killed by advanced roadside bombs in Iraq. These bombs were of the type that had been designed, financed, and deployed using oil money – tying my friends’ deaths directly to the global petroleum trade and the cash that American demand for oil funnels to our worst enemies. Our single-source dependence on oil was a huge risk on the battlefield, and remains a risk to our economic and national security.

    Our oil dependence is also exacerbating climate change, which is becoming a greater strain on our military.

    For full video of the testimony, see below. 

    Note: we apologize for the poor video quality. We were unable to remove the static and pops from the recording. 

    Climate change has increased need for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response. In October 2012, 14,000 DoD civilians and military personnel were mobilized to respond to Hurricane Sandy – providing emergency relief, helping with search and rescue, restoring electricity, removing debris, and pumping out tunnels.

    In October 2013, more than 13,000 military personnel were mobilized to respond to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

    The military gets a request for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response once every two weeks. This strain on our forces will only grow as extreme weather events get more frequent and more severe.

    But it is not just humanitarian assistance needs that will grow as the effects of climate change manifest around the globe. We are already seeing the destabilizing of precarious regions, as governments fail to deliver services for people living in fragile ecosystems, when water dries up in central Africa it wreaks more havoc than it does here in California, when 20% of Pakistan’s total land is under water as it was in 2010, how much more likely is it that their nuclear stockpile will fall into the hands of an Al Qaeda affiliate or the like?

    These things are happening now.

    But it doesn’t have to be this way. The Department of Defense has recognized for years the danger of climate change and our over reliance on fossil fuels, and has been taking steps to mitigate the risks that they can.

    Clean energy technologies are making our military more capable and secure. From providing renewable power for our forces on patrol in Afghanistan, limiting fuel drops and exposure of our logistics tail, to taking huge strides in harnessing private capital to build clean energy generation on our military bases here at home, our military is once again leading the way to the future.

    When I was in Iraq, protecting fuel convoys from insurgent attacks was a dangerous diversion. Today, climate change imposes a similar burden on our men and women in uniform. It makes vulnerable countries less stable, provides recruiting opportunities for extremist groups, and contributes to more frequent and severe weather events, all of which strain our military.

    One of my best friends is now deployed to who knows where overseas, with his Special Forces battalion. What I do know is that the threats he is facing, and indeed we are all facing, are being made worse by the continued lack of coordinated action at the highest levels of our nation’s government.

    The Department of Defense is already taking advantage of clean energy and energy productivity technologies to create a more capable and secure force. The nation should follow their lead.

  • Sudden Change: How The New EPA Policy towards Renewable Fuel Threatens Energy Independence

    When it comes to the growth of clean, homegrown fuels, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been a leader in the industry. Through a key federal policy – the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) —the EPA has led the way on developing and expanding the use of advanced biofuels by civilians and our military. However, in a shocking turn of events, the EPA may actually become the roadblock on the path to America’s post-oil future as they consider reducing the amount of alternative fuels the industry can produce in 2014.

    As a U.S. Army veteran who served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, I know alternative fuels are an essential tool for confronting our single-source dependence on oil, and ensuring our economic and national security. The EPA’s new attempts to weaken the advanced biofuels industry would not only undermine our ability to pursue a diverse energy sector, they would also hinder military readiness.

    As the largest institutional consumer of fuel in the world, the Department of Defense (DoD) is extremely vulnerable to price spikes cost of fuel. When fuel prices increase unexpectedly, the military must divert resources to pay for the increased energy costs. Additionally, our military spends enormous resources and puts our servicemen and women in greater risk just to keep global supply lines open and operable.

    That’s why the military is investing in advanced fuels to diversify energy sources and protect against price spikes.  They know this isn’t about being green.  It’s about expanding options to maintain the strongest fighting force in the world.

    Here at home, we are shackled to the same volatile global oil market. Our transportation sector is dependent on oil to meet more than 93 percent of its energy needs.  And because the price of oil is determined globally, unrest or instability in faraway places raises prices at the pump and hurts household budgets too.

    When it comes to America’s energy security, we need and deserve better choices. We shouldn’t hold ourselves back.

    Today, the robust policies put in place by the EPA are supporting the growth of the advanced biofuels industry. One particular success story is biodiesel, a type of advanced biofuel.  Last year, the United States produced more than a billion gallons of biodiesel, with every single gallon reducing our dependence on oil.  The industry is poised to produce even more this year, helping revitalize small businesses and local communities all over the country.

    However, proposed cuts to volume requirements for biodiesel and other advanced biofuels would hurt the future growth of the industry, limiting our country – and the military’s – ability to diversify fuel sources and hitting smaller producers and biorefiners especially hard.

    As someone who served and defended this country, I believe the military needs every tool at its disposal when it comes to powering the mission and keeping America safe.

    And as a North Carolinian, I want our state to continue leading the way in securing America with cleaner, advanced biofuels – like biodiesel. North Carolina is home to five biodiesel production companies, each generating private investment and creating jobs in local communities across the state – all while strengthening our national security.

    This is a fight for America’s energy future – and the stakes couldn’t be higher. I call upon the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider cutting their support for robust policies that provide alternatives to our dangerous dependence on oil and bolster the renewable fuels industry in America. Instead of standing in the way of a more secure energy future, the EPA should go back to leading the way.

    Chris V. Rey is a former Army Signal Officer who served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He is currently the Mayor of Spring Lake, N.C

  • Renewable sources of power are key to Ohio’s energy security

    For months, we have seen a fight play out in the Statehouse over Ohio’s energy future and the fate of Substitute Senate Bill 58 – which would weaken Ohio’s ability to pursue clean, homegrown, renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Just recently, we saw changes made to the bill.

    While there are some who claim these adjustments were a compromise and have lessened the harmful impacts of this bill, let me be clear: Substitute Senate Bill 58 is still a bad deal for Ohioans.

    The revised amendments would still weaken Ohio’s renewable energy standard — a law that requires a certain amount of the state’s energy portfolio be derived from renewable sources.

    Yet, continuing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency strengthen our national security and benefit Ohio’s economy. They also save Ohioans money. Since the standards were first adopted in 2008, Ohio taxpayers have saved more than $1 billion on their utility bills.

    Introduced by state Sen. Bill Seitz (Republican of Cincinnati), the bill would, among other things, weaken in-state renewable energy by allowing out-of-state and out-of-country sources to count toward the standard and cap investments in energy efficiency. This means fewer new clean-energy projects would be built in the state and higher energy costs for Ohioans. A recent report concluded that, if implemented, S.B. 58 would pay over $300 million annually on electricity bills, costing the average Ohio household an added $528 on their electricity bill over the next three years. It’s a dangerous move for Ohio — and one that puts our military and national security more at risk.

    The facts are stark: Our reliance on fossil fuels puts our troops in greater risk abroad and endangers us here at home. And by investing in renewable sources of power, we can lessen that threat, while investing in Ohio’s economy.

    Our local leaders once understood this. That’s why, in 2008, Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) was enacted with broad bipartisan support. It states that 12.5 percent (that’s a half of a quarter) of the state’s electricity must come from renewable sources by year 2025. Importantly, it requires that at least half of those sources be located within Ohio —meaning it will create local jobs in growing industries. In sum, this standard allows Ohio to diversify its energy portfolio to include cleaner, renewable, homegrown energy options like wind, solar and energy efficiency.

    In the five years since, Ohio has seen the creation of 25,000 jobs in renewable energy and energy-efficiency markets — with many of these businesses being veteran-owned or employing returning service members. Should the standards continue to mature, Ohio’s clean energy industry is projected to grow by at least another 30,000 jobs. That’s enough jobs to employ every single undergraduate at Ohio University, twice over.

    Today, Ohio is a national leader in clean energy technology production. This is not only benefitting our state’s bottom-line, but America’s national security.

    Our enemies recognize America’s crucial weakness, one that our military leaders understand all too well. Our single-source dependence on oil tethers our military to a volatile world market and requires enormous resources to protect a vast and vulnerable supply chain. Clean energy technologies lessen these risks and lower costs. A diverse mix of energy sources increases grid stability and protects the military and Ohioans from unexpected energy price spikes.

    As a veteran who served in both the Army and Navy, I’ve seen firsthand how limited energy options – like dependence on oil – hurt mission capability and put lives at stake. In Iraq, I participated in logistical operations, meaning I helped with the movement of fuel convoys —gas trucks — daily. Insurgents recognized these convoys as easy targets. On one trip, the fuel convoy in front of my truck got struck by small arms fire, began leaking fuel and nearly exploded. On another mission, the truck in front of mine got hit with an improvised explosive device — and the gunner suffered lifelong wounds. I came away from my decade of service with one clear idea: We need energy diversity to keep our military the strongest in the world and to protect our troops.

    Here at home, the same need for a diverse energy mix applies. Our state’s energy future is more secure if we have more energy options, and the Renewable Portfolio Standard is critical to achieving that goal. These clean sources of energy do not just give Ohio residents, businesses and military bases energy – they give us options.

    In Ohio, we need a diverse portfolio that takes advantage of the clean, homegrown energy resources – like wind and solar – available to us. Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard is a vital step forward, one that bolsters energy security, saves Ohioans money on their utility bill, and strengthens Ohio’s economic security.

    Any attempts to water down these standards will always be a bad deal for Ohioans. The Ohio State legislature would be smart to vote down Substitute Senate Bill 58 — and in doing so, continue this state’s legacy of forward-thinking investments in our safety and prosperity.

    Mark Szabo is a Cleveland native, a Northeast Ohio resident and a U.S. Army and Navy veteran. He is also a member of Operation Free. This article originally appeared in The Plain Dealer.

  • America’s Next War?

    The concept of war for almost all Americans coming of age in the last decade has been defined by Iraq and Afghanistan, from the dusty streets of Mosul to firefights in the Korengal Valley.  In decades prior, Bosnia, the Cold War and Vietnam were the prisms through which young Americans viewed armed conflict.  Exponentially increasing media coverage by embedded journalists and cable news has brought conflict closer to our conscious minds than ever.  Today, experts and pundits alike seemingly agree that our next politco-military challenge may come from Iran, and they may be right.

    But what if another war is looming that could shape not only our next few decades’ views on war, but also our nation’s very trajectory?

    What if that war were waged largely out of the American public’s view? Read more

  • Indianapolis: Leading the Change in Energy

    As Washington rejoices over Congress’s late-breaking, perhaps-temporary return to sanity, the rest of the country can be forgiven if we remain skeptical.  After hours of late-night drama, back-room dealing, and gestures both petty and grand, our leaders have reached a deal to . . . delay a crisis of their own making.  That’s great news, but it does make you wonder:  If it was that hard to stave off a fiscal and budgetary crisis that Congress created in the first place, what about challenges like energy security and climate change—challenges that are coming our way whether we want them to or not? Read more

  • Daines Hiding in Foxhole Over Climate Change

    This piece is about one issue, and how two leaders have responded to it. The scientific consensus, with 97 percent of climate scientists in agreement, is that our planet is heating up to dangerous levels because of the greenhouse gases we’re emitting into the atmosphere.

    The two leaders are: Steve Daines, Montana’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and former Army Capt. Mike Breen, who is now serving as the spokesman of Operation Free, a nationwide coalition of veterans and national security experts who recognize that climate change is a major threat, and support fast, bold action. Read more

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