• Pearl Harbor, Petroleum, and the Pacific Pivot

    62 years ago last week, in 1941, the Imperial Empire of Japan launched one of the most deadly strikes in U.S. history.  By the end of the day, the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet was nearly crippled—and 2,335 American servicemembers were dead.

    Yet, while the impact of the attack on Pearl Harbor still ripples through our society today, the real impetus for the Japanese attack isn’t well known.  Pearl Harbor was attacked because of Japan’s need for an essential resource—one that the U.S. still fights over today: oil.

    The motivations behind the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor were best framed by Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo, who said a month prior to the attack, “Two years from now we will have no petroleum for military use.  Ships will stop moving…I fear that we would become a third-class nation after two or three years if we just sat tight.” In other words, Japan understood its future hinged on fuel.

    In 1940, Japan imported more than 90% of its oil requirements, including 80% from the United States.  President Roosevelt sought to use this dependence as a “noose around Japan’s neck”. In an attempt at coercive diplomacy, he instituted an embargo on shipping essential supplies, including oil, to Japan.

    After stunning the U.S. Navy at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were able to capture the oil-rich Dutch East Indies and restarted production at its wells.  In the two years that followed, the Japanese were able to fuel their fleet and won a series of victories.

    But when U.S. submarines started targeting Japanese oil tankers, cutting off the crucial shipping lines between the Southern Zone and the Home Islands, Japan’s vulnerabilities became obvious.  Japan’s fuel shortages began dictating strategic decisions and opening opportunities that allowed the U.S. to turn the war in the Pacific in its favor.

    Pushed to the brink, Japan became desperate for fuel to power its ships and aircraft.  It expended enormous resources trying to create synthetic fuels out of coal, which failed to pay off.  Ships and vehicles were converted back from oil to coal, sapping military capability and range.  At its most dire, Japan began a nationwide campaign to compel its citizens to dig up and cook pine roots from all over the countryside to create a crude oil substitute, leaving barren stretches of land.

    None of it worked. The pine root fuel ended up damaging aircraft engines.  Planes and ships laid unused because they had no way to power themselves. And forced to conserve fuel, warships with any fuel arrived at crucial battles too late to provide support. In fact, when General Douglas MacArthur landed in Japan to sign the agreement for Japan’s surrender, the only vehicles the hosts could provide were powered by charcoal. The vehicle carrying MacArthur repeatedly broke down on the ceremony.

    America’s experience in the Pacific Theater during World War II underscores petroleum’s role as a strategic commodity. The fate of militaries—and nations themselves—relies on assured access to adequate supplies of oil.

    It’s a lesson that’s even more important today for the United States, as our military is incredibly dependent on access to petroleum-based fuels.

    This past decade of war—in Iraq and Afghanistan—was waged largely by the least energy-intensive branches of our military: the Army and Marine Corps. But as the war winds down, the Pentagon is shifting its focus (and therefore, the fuel burden) to our most fuel-intensive branches: the Navy and Air Force.

    The military is doing so by refocusing its forces to the Pacific Rim. With an area of responsibility that covers more than half the earth’s surface, America’s Pacific-based forces burn up enormous amounts of fuel. The rebalance to Asia will mean that the U.S. military—already the largest institutional consumer of fuel in the world—will require even greater energy resources to accomplish its strategic goals.

    In light of these developments, the lessons of Japan resonate today. The U.S. military must maintain the “freedom of action”—the ability to go where needed and act decisively—to accomplish its missions and project power amid new threats.  That means that we must treat access to energy as an objective, not an assumption.  We need a more capable, agile and sustainable force, and it’s more important than ever to consider energy requirements in strategic planning and platform acquisition.

    That’s why a “defense energy” community is taking shape, consisting of Department of Defense and service branch officials; technology companies; academics; and energy entrepreneurs. It is helping to develop and implement technologies that increase the energy productivity of our forces. Events like the Defense Energy Summit are bringing together stakeholders from around the country.

    Fortunately, our military is already taking action. The Navy is investing in hybrid-drive propulsion systems. The Air Force is installing advanced turbines on its aircraft to increase range and stay in the air longer.  And the U.S. Department of Defense is entering into agreements with Pacific Rim allies—like Australia—to develop advanced fuels for military use.  These fuels work perfectly with existing equipment. And since they’re made from sources like algae and recycled waste oils, don’t compete with food production.

    Incorporating emerging clean energy technologies—and diversifying energy sources that power our ships and aircraft—will be essential for our military to accomplish its strategic goals.  Now, in particular, it is imperative that we reflect on our history in the Pacific, and ensure that we learn from our experiences at war with Japan.

    Michael Wu is the Advocacy Policy Director at the Truman National Security Project and the Center for National Policy, a Washington, DC-based policy organization. He also helps leadOperation Free, a nationwide coalition of veterans and national security experts that advocate for securing America with clean energy. Views expressed are his own. 

  • 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.

  • Greatest Generation Grandparents Inspired My Passion for Energy Efficiency

    Andrea Marr is being honored as a Veteran Advancing Clean Energy and Climate Security Champion of Change.

    My grandparents were green before green was trendy. They had a solar hot water heater on the roof of their home and a garden where they grew most of their vegetables. My grandfather built a sunroom attached to the house, and during winters in Colorado they had only to crack the door of the sun room and warm air heated by the sun would flow into the living room. They lived in a suburb very much on the grid, but embraced self-sufficiency as much as they could. The modifications they made to their home and the way they lived saved them money, utilized less energy, and improved their quality of life.

    I grew up instilled with this notion of conservation, but I have more in common with my grandparents than that. They both served in the Navy during World War II – my grandmother as a yeoman, my grandfather as a pilot. Like them, I wanted to serve my country; eventually I too joined the Navy.

    I loved the military and completed five years of service before retiring, confident there was another way I could contribute to our great nation and have an impact: by promoting clean energy.

    We stand at an incredible moment for clean energy. Solar is on the verge of grid parity – by 2017, the cost of solar in the U.S. will be truly competitive. Wind energy has the capacity to power over 15 million homes and that number is rapidly increasing. But we also have a huge opportunity to reduce the amount that we consume, opting for smart technologies and common sense approaches to energy reduction. As a nation, we have the chance to emulate my grandparents by using less energy and saving money while improving our lives.

    In the last year my work has focused largely on educational facilities, from middle schools to universities. I’ve discovered auditoriums with the lights and air conditioning left on for the entire summer following graduation. I’ve found classrooms where kids are getting less fresh air than recommended and places where the A/C is left on high but doesn’t work properly and never actually cools a room.

    There is nothing political about energy efficiency. There is nothing overwhelmingly complex or risky about implementing measures that improve our homes and offices and create safer, more productive environments. Nationally we spend $32 billion dollars heating hot water in our homes; the installation of solar hot water heating alone could reduce the average household’s energy expenditure by half. It’s estimated that commercial office buildings waste 30% of all the energy they consume. That equates to energy we can avoid buying on the world oil market, savings in our pockets, and better environments in which to live.

    It’s not about being green for green’s sake. It’s about the future we want to create and the opportunity to exercise American leadership to make us self-sufficient in the best sense of word – in a way my Greatest Generation grandparents would respect.

    Andrea Marr is a professional engineer and energy efficiency expert in California.  She is also a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council.  This originally appeared on the White House Blog.

  • Carrying the Flag Forward To a Clean Energy Future

    Kevin Johnson is being honored as a Veteran Advancing Clean Energy and Climate Security Champion of Change.

    It is a tremendous honor to be recognized as a White House Champion of Change and I am humbled by the opportunity to share my experiences as an Iraq War Veteran now working to combat our nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and the impacts of climate change. Throughout my life, I have had the good fortune to be surrounded by positive influences that have helped me shape my values and choose my career path. Growing up in Scranton, PA, I learned the true meaning of hard work and sacrifice from my mother. I learned what community really means and the importance of friendship, trust, and integrity. Moreover, I learned how important it is to appreciate service and leadership in all forms.

    I graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point and served as an Army Captain in Bayji, Iraq. My tour in Iraq was served in the shadow of seemingly endless oil fires that filled the desert sky as insurgents attacked pipelines at a nearby refinery in an attempt to cripple the country’s economy. At the same time, our own military’s dependence on fossil fuels was placing thousands of my fellow soldiers in harm’s way. One in every 24 fuel convoys in Iraq and Afghanistan ended in an American casualty, with more than three thousand Americans killed in fuel-supply convoys between 2003 and 2007 alone.

    My proudest professional accomplishment was safely returning all 130 of my soldiers home to their families upon redeployment from Bayji in 2005. My experience taught me that reducing our dependence on fossil fuels would make our nation more secure and bring more soldiers home safely. For these reasons, I decided to focus my MBA studies at Cornell University and my civilian career at Acciona Energy on the advancement of clean energy technologies.

    Thankfully, many veterans – ranging from privates to general officers – are returning from a decade of war with a similar commitment to securing our nation’s energy future and combating the impacts of climate change. Operation Free, a national coalition of thousands of veterans, national security leaders, and military family members in all fifty states, is tackling climate change. Today, Operation Free is leading the fight for clean energy policies at both the federal and state levels.

    The Department of Defense has recognized that the need to secure our nation’s energy future is a national security issue of the highest magnitude and will require bold and decisive action. Deploying clean energy technology can help create a better future and a stronger nation, but it will not be easy. This is precisely the kind of challenge our veterans are trained for.

    As the President noted in his 2009 inaugural address, “[…] it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things – some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor – who have carried us up the long rugged path towards prosperity and freedom. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter.”

    Our nation’s veterans, from Scranton to Seattle, have been battle tested. We will carry the flag forward on this long, rugged path to a clean energy future. We will not turn back and we will not falter.

    Kevin Johnson is the Senior Manager of Mergers & Acquisitions and Federal Business Development for Acciona Energy North America, a global leader in renewable energy.  This article originally appeared on the White House Blog.

  • Energy Independence, Military Readiness, and Economic Growth: Clean Energy Leads to National Security

    Dave Belote is being honored as a Veteran Advancing Clean Energy and Climate Security Champion of Change.

    I’ve been blessed with two exciting and fulfilling careers: first as a fighter pilot, Battlefield Airman, and base commander; and now as a clean energy developer and advocate. While the two may seem unrelated, each has served the same goal – to ensure a long and prosperous future for the country I love. My lifelong commitment to national security has taught me that keeping our country safe will require more than military readiness. I’m convinced that energy independence and economic growth are equally important to our nation’s long-term prosperity. Renewable energy is at the nexus of the three.

    When I moved to Nevada in 2008 to become the installation commander for Nellis Air Force Base, Creech Air Force Base, and the Nevada Test and Training Range, I knew almost nothing about clean energy development. After taking command, I learned quickly. I inherited the then-largest solar photovoltaic array on the continent, a 14-megawatt system that produced more than 25 percent of Nellis’s electricity and saved roughly $83,000 per month in energy costs during my tenure. I was also asked to help site a 110-megawatt solar tower near Tonopah, NV – not an easy task, as we had to protect sophisticated test range capabilities in the vicinity. With the help of Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory and its cutting-edge analysis, we found a win-win site for both the military and the solar company, allowing the project to move forward.

    The Tonopah project was not unique in its siting challenges. Siting projects near Department of Defense (DoD) facilities requires consideration of impacts on radar systems, training procedures, and test facilities. Our Nevada solution became a model and led me back to the Pentagon as a civilian, where I created the DoD Siting Clearinghouse to review energy projects nationwide and promote mission-compatible development on and around military facilities. From industry we learned how renewable energy can drive a local economy by creating construction jobs, providing income for rural landowners, and increasing county tax revenues. Working with scientists and engineers, we determined how close to various military facilities we could place turbines and solar systems. We actively engaged developers and found innovative, cooperative solutions. To date the Clearinghouse has approved more than 96 percent of the requests it has received, honoring landowner rights and entrepreneurial drive while protecting the DoD’s mission.

    My path has taken me to the private sector, where I am developing the types of projects I would have appreciated as a base commander – total energy surety solutions combining on-site generation, storage, and smart grid software. Apex Clean Energy has empowered me to design wind and solar energy projects specifically for military customers. At the same time, I am able to tackle larger issues by working with advocacy groups like the American Council on Renewable Energy, the Association of Defense Communities, Environmental Entrepreneurs, and the Truman Project on National Security.

    The future of clean energy in our country is bright, but there is much more we can do. We need to amend the current tax structure to level the financial playing field, and I believe a refundable tax credit will bring us one step closer to cheaper capital through Master Limited Partnerships. I applaud the President’s goal of 10 gigawatts of renewable energy on public lands, but I believe we need a comprehensive review of military missions on federal lands and the outer continental shelf in order to achieve it. I firmly believe we can find the proper balance of military readiness and energy independence, and that the renewable energy facilities we build will provide jobs and revenues to support local services, creating true national security for our country.

    Dave Belote, Vice President for Federal Business at Apex Clean Energy, works to create mission-compatible renewable energy solutions for military installations, public lands, and the outer continental shelf.  This article originally appeared on the White House Blog.

  • Saving our Future by Changing the Way We Think About Energy

    Drew Sloan is being honored as a Veteran Advancing Clean Energy and Climate Security Champion of Change.

    It is a true and humbling honor to be named a Veteran Advancing Clean Energy & Climate Security Champion of Change, because the way the world engages with its energy sources in the years to come will define the life of each and every one of this planet’s inhabitants.

    My experiences as an Army officer offered a clear view of the interconnections between energy – be it possession, pursuit, or production – and conflict. That view was not shaped by my time in Iraq, where some have argued American involvement was based largely on attempting to secure and safeguard energy resources. Instead, my views were shaped by the physical darkness in Afghanistan – the kind of pitch-black darkness found only in a night sky with no TVs or blinking alarm clocks to distract. In Afghanistan I lived in a region with no lights to let students study at night and no reliable power to keep shops open past sunset. It was a land locked in conflict, without energy, but filled with people deeply desiring a better life.

    There is no doubt that energy access makes our lives better. It allows businesses to stay open past dark and children to study after dinner. Energy powers the modern world and modern life. People aspire to the opportunities energy provides, and rightly so – it is perhaps the greatest of all enablers and everyone deserves access.

    As such, our challenge is not to restrict access to energy, but to enable it in a responsible manner. In the developing world this means focusing on sourcing energy in the cleanest ways possible, because the pursuit and production of energy is not without costs. CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels have already caused extensive damage to the world’s ecosystems. This damage is the direct result of 75 percent of the world’s population obtaining energy from fossil fuels. These negative effects on our climate will only escalate if the remaining 25 percent currently living without seek access to energy in the same way. This challenge to empower the developing world to source its burgeoning energy needs through clean sources is crucially important.

    Although the developing world is important, developed nations must lead the way. It is no secret that those of us in the developed world use a lot of energy – and we also waste much of that energy. This lifestyle must change. To enable that change, my software company Opower works with utilities to give customers better insight into their energy usage – insight that leads to smarter, more productive energy decisions without sacrificing quality of life. Currently communicated to more than eighteen million homes worldwide, Opower’s efforts encouraging people to make better, more efficient energy choices has saved over three terawatt hours (TWh) of energy – roughly the equivalent of the combined power needs of both Salt Lake City and St. Louis for a year – all through the empowerment of the collective to make wiser energy choices.

    The parts we all play in managing our energy use in the years to come will determine the future we will share together. It is a simple truth, but a powerful challenge.

    Drew Sloan is a former U.S. Army officer and currently works as a Sales Executive for the energy efficiency software company Opower and is also a Fellow with the Truman National Security Project. This originally appeared on the White House Blog.

  • Carbon, Conservation, and Community – Protecting Military Readiness and Natural Resources While Promoting Economic Development in Rural Communities

    Joe Knott is being honored as a Veteran Advancing Clean Energy and Climate Security Champion of Change.

    I grew up in Cincinnati, OH, as the oldest of five children. At seventeen I made the choice to serve my country, joining the Ohio National Guard and shipping off to basic training after graduating from high school early. During my 33 years in uniform I came to realize the full meaning of service to one’s country and learned to always be thankful and “give back” for the privilege of living in the greatest country in the world. Early in my military career I volunteered for multiple deployments to Central America, living in the mountains of Honduras while building roads and schools for those less fortunate. After returning to the U.S., I became an officer and full-time soldier, and for the next three decades had the privilege to work with uniformed and civilian professionals at all levels within the Army’s environmental and sustainability organizations.

    Serving as the National Guard Bureau’s Sustainability and Energy program manager, I was responsible for sustainability education and renewable energy initiatives for all 54 States and Territories. As a senior officer, I led efforts to decrease the Army’s fossil fuel use and greatly increase renewable energy use, including the Army National Guard’s first Solar Power Purchase Agreement. While stationed at the Pentagon, I served as the program manager for the Army Compatible Use Buffer program, the Army’s premier land conservation and partnership program. Under my leadership the program conserved more than 70,000 acres of U.S. land for permanent protection of habitat and green space. After over three decades of military service, it is especially rewarding, both personally and professionally, to receive recognition from my Commander in Chief as a Champion of Change.

    Shortly after my retirement from service, I joined the Compatible Lands Foundation, a non-profit land trust specializing in innovative conservation partnerships with the Department of Defense. I am currently leading a first-of-its-kind partnership between federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, academia, green investors, and industry to create the Readiness and Environmental Protection Integration program’s first forest carbon project. We are working with federal partners from the Army and National Guard Bureau along with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the US Forest Service. Other partners include Mississippi State University and Northern Arizona University as well as the National Wild Turkey Federation.

    We all realize that so much more can be accomplished together rather than individually; what matters is education, passion, and collaboration. Through this unique partnership we are developing a carbon sequestration project to protect national security, preserve natural resources and endangered species, and support local economies and rural jobs – all while sequestering more than 68,000 tons of greenhouse gases. Revenues from carbon offset sales will help finance additional climate resilience and cooperative conservation initiatives in Mississippi for the next ninety-nine years. This carbon sequestration project will also provide a template for replicating climate change mitigation initiatives across the United States, creating opportunities to sequester hundreds of thousands of tons of additional carbon each year.

    During my “retirement” I am pursuing my Ph.D. at Arizona State University’s Global Institute of Sustainability with the goal of becoming a college professor. I seek to educate the next generation about climate change, the importance of renewable energy to national security, and the importance of preserving what we are all blessed to have received.

    Lieutenant Colonel Joe Knott (Ret.) is the Director of Military Partnerships for the Compatible Lands Foundation, a non-profit organization specializing in innovative conservation partnerships with the Department of Defense.  This originally appeared in the White House Blog.

  • Clean Energy and Climate Change Are American Issues

    Robin Eckstein is being honored as a Veteran Advancing Clean Energy and Climate Security Champion of Change.

    In 2003 I deployed with the 1st Armored Division, 123rd Main Support Battalion to Baghdad, Iraq as a truck driver. In Iraq, I drove supply missions in and around the Baghdad area. During that time there was no opportunity to reflect on the daily missions to deliver fuel to forward operating bases that left our convoys vulnerable to constant attacks. These forward operating bases were going through so much fuel that the convoys had to leave the safer confines of the main bases and put American lives at risk so that this dirty fossil fuel could be used up almost as fast as it was delivered. I realized there had to be a better way, but during war you don’t have time to worry about the “what ifs.”

    After returning home I decided to continue my service to the country by striving to make a difference in clean energy. In 2007 I began working on veterans issues with VoteVets.org. Then in 2009, the Truman National Security Project started a campaign called Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security agencies campaigning for comprehensive clean energy reform. This is where I found a true place I could make a difference and ease the pain of losing my chance to serve directly after being medically discharged from my combat disability.

    I boarded a bus with a group of fellow veterans from around the nation and we drove across the country speaking at hundreds of different venues, each time discovering that when a group of veterans discussed clean energy and climate change, it was no longer a partisan issue, but one that everyone in America could be concerned about. Whether it was a meeting at the Minot, ND, Chamber of Commerce or a VFW hall in Berkeley, MI, people could see the connections.

    Our message was amplified by the Pentagon’s move to take climate change seriously as a threat multiplier. The Department of Defense is taking the lead to help reduce that impact, because every solar generator that replaces a fuel-using one saves lives in a war by not having me or my fellow truck drivers dodging bullets to transport that fuel to forward operating bases.

    Bringing a no-nonsense message to the American people from honest war veterans proved that minds and attitudes could be changed. There has been a lot of forward movement on climate change and clean energy in the country, and there is more good work being done today. I know the changes the military is making now will mean fewer convoys being attacked because of the old fuel-guzzling ways of yesteryear. Not only did my fellow veterans and I make a difference by bringing the connection and the truth to Americans across the nation, but I also helped myself by continuing my service to my country and giving myself a reason to not let my disability win. I am honored to be a Champion of Change and thankful to all my fellow veterans that also spread the message on that big blue bus and the many others who helped along the way.

    Robin Eckstein is a veteran and a Truman Defense Council member living in Appleton, WI.  This originally appeared on the White House Blog.

  • Military Leaders Converge in Texas to Secure our Energy Future

    This week, the defense energy community will converge on Austin, TX for the first Defense Energy Summit (DES).  Bringing together policymakers, military officials, and industry, investment and academic leaders, the DES is a unique opportunity for leaders in the field to showcase new technologies, hear from high-level decision makers, and share lessons learned from their successes and setbacks.  But events like the DES present an even bigger opportunity:  to catalyze a conversation about America’s broader energy future. Read more

  • New Operation Free Website: The Evolution of a Campaign

    In Iraq, as a young Lieutenant on my first combat tour, I served on an isolated fighting camp south of Baghdad in an area known as the “Triangle of Death.” My unit was entirely dependent on daily fuel convoys to power our generators and fuel our vehicles.

    Recognizing this, Iraqi insurgents consistently ambushed the convoys while my infantry company fought to protect them – leading to almost-daily firefights we jokingly called “fighting for our supper.” The insurgents had recognized a crucial weakness, one that Osama bin Laden referred to as America’s “Achilles heel”: our dependence on oil as a single source of fuel. Read more

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