• 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.

  • Half the Oil: Building a More Secure America

    The costs of securing oil threaten the lives of our troops and hurt our economy. That is why our military is already leading the way in deploying clean energy technologies technologies that cut oil use and keep America safe and strong.

    Watch this video and share it with your family & friends! 

     

    For more information on threats & solutions, download our FAQ sheet here.

     

  • Energy Independence: The New American Freedom

    This post was originally featured on CleanTx

    For Americans and veterans alike, Memorial Day serves as a day to pay tribute to our fallen service members. The millions of men and women that have served in combat overseas understand that the price of freedom is not free, and that the pursuit of freedom does not always lead to the gates of victory. Many of our recent combat veterans returning home from wars in the Middle East understand this notion quite well. For many Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans, the war in Iraq was as misconstrued on the front lines as it was misunderstood back home. During the starting point of the “Surge”, nearly 50% of Americans supported the immediate return of troops from Iraq, with 83-98% Iraqi citizens opposing the presence of coalition forces in their country. During this point in the war, many soldiers on the front lines frequently asked themselves and each other one simple question. “Why are we here?”

    During a fifteen-month tour as part of the “Surge” in Baghdad, my platoon performed nearly 1,000 combat missions in an area of intense contention between an Al-Qaeda cell and a highly militarized insurgent group known as Jaysh al-Mahdi. Both competing organizations engaged in a blood feud against each other, while waging war against unaffiliated Iraqi citizens, the Iraqi government and our coalition forces. During that period of the war, the bloodshed incurred in my platoon’s area of operation resulted in hundreds of Iraqi citizens being brutally murdered, with thousands more becoming displaced only to escape to other war-torn neighborhoods and cities, or worse, to other countries that shuffled them to war refugee camps that resembled a dystopian nightmare more than a place of solace. Our platoon saw more than our fair share of close quarter battles, and experienced too often the anguish of carrying our fallen brethren off the battlefield. However, through all our hardships borne, we managed to spearhead multiple counterinsurgency strategies with our fellow Iraqi Army partners and local Iraqi leaders that brought about a relative level of peace and normality to our area of operation. Indeed, the price of freedom was not free, but why did we find ourselves in such a precarious situation in the first place?

    During the first six months of our tour, there was a major dispute occurring between the U.S. Department of State and the Iraq Ministry of Oil. The dispute was split into two primary points of tension- petroleum product shortages throughout all major Iraqi cities and the overwhelmingly increasing oil revenues being generated by the Ministry that were not being adequately appropriated toward post-invasion development efforts. One of the greatest crises experienced by Iraqi citizens during the war was lack of power, or rather the lack of national grid power being supplied to their homes and businesses.

    Upon assuming command of our area of operation, our platoon was tasked with the incredulous mission to bring power to Iraqi homes and businesses in an area that only yielded an average of two hours of national grid power per day per capita. For two weeks, we followed transmission lines to transformers and transformers to substations in an effort to discover the disconnection between upstream generation and downstream users. By the end of the investigation, it was overwhelmingly clear that there was little or no power generation being supplied by the power stations around the city. Moreover, the transmission lines were being cut and gutted by local citizens for their copper to be sold to scrap yards in a city that was experiencing 25-40% unemployment according to many internationally accredited sources like the Brookings Institute. In other words, there was nearly no production or transmission of power in a city of four million people with average summertime temperatures north of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Instead, neighborhoods, business and homesteads relied on local generation from diesel generators that were spread sparsely throughout the streets of neighborhoods, where thousands upon thousands of spider web-like electrical lines spun back and forth across homes and streets to connect with the generators. Around every generator a cloud of black smoke would plume like a diesel powered locomotive engine forming a thick, black chalk-like residue around the dense neighborhood streets where they were usually located. The soot and particulates from the generators, as reported by local hospitals and clinics, were the root cause in the significant rise of respiratory illnesses.

    As we investigated the localized generation paradigm, we begun to receive many complaints about price gouging from local citizens who would bring us their bills from month to month to compare the price per kWh. The price differentials were staggering, so we brought these complaints to the local leaders and government officials to find a way to resolve the erratic pricing behaviors of generator owners. It was during these engagements that our platoon discovered the consequences of war and the influence of controlling the power supply.

    Following the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein and his minions used controlling tactics like cutting off the power supply in contended Shia neighborhoods to keep the citizens in those areas from forming an uprising against him and his regime. Following the invasion, Al-Qaeda cells and insurgent groups used similar tactics, but with more brute force. Like many other oil-rich OPEC countries, the Iraqi government was required to supply petroleum products to Iraqi citizens and business at subsidized rates or no cost at all. The supply of those petroleum products, as we learned, were being sabotaged and hijacked by both Al-Qaeda and insurgent operatives who would then illegally sell the fuel to local generator owners, businesses and citizens. Upon assuming control of the petroleum supply, they would increase demand by withholding fuel from the market, which would then drive up local generation prices. Thus, we discovered the genesis for price gouging in our area of operation.

    It was also during this period of time that the Ministry of Oil had fallen under great scrutiny by the U.S. Department of State for not adequately appropriating oil production revenues towards post-invasion reconstruction, which were generated from the sale of oil resources to global oil companies and developing countries as initiated by the Iraq Hydrocarbons Law. Revenues from multiple non-bid contracts to top global oil developers and producers reportedly lead the Ministry of Oil to generate over $20 billion in revenues during the first six months of the “Surge” – more than five times the average annual budget for the entire Iraqi government. As such, a portion of these revenues were appropriated to supply petroleum products in our area of operation to Iraqi citizens, which were then being hijacked and controlled by Al-Qaeda and insurgent operatives. In other words, not only was the Iraqi government failing to provide necessary national services to their citizens, they were also inadvertently funding the extremists and insurgents who were waging war against their government, their citizens and our coalition forces.

    Our platoon executed an aggressive counterinsurgency campaign against the two extremist organizations, which was supported and lead by our Iraqi Army counterparts and local Iraqi leaders. These efforts eliminated the two extremists groups from controlling the petroleum supply lines, which in turn stabilized local generator pricing and extended average daily power supply from two hours per day to twelve hours per day per capita. The stabilization of power supply and pricing then lead to increased business development and economic activities, which spurred greater growth in other service areas like trash collection and sewage line installation. The generators that were located along the dense neighborhood streets were relocated to large ventilated areas, and were protected by locally hired citizens. As a result of all these activities, local hospitals and clinics reported a significant drop of dysentery cases in our area of operation, constituted by the new sewage lines and trash collection, and a near complete reduction in reported respiratory illnesses caused by poorly ventilated areas around generators.

    The increased quality of life for the Iraqi citizens in our area of operation was palpable, and it came at no added expense to American taxpayers beyond the salaries of sixty American soldiers deployed to Western Baghdad. Rather, it was paid by the blood, sweat and tears of our platoon and company, along with our Iraqi counterparts, for which six of our beloved brothers lost their lives in pursuit of these efforts – with many others being severely injured. Yet, this is just one story from the thousands and millions of similar stories and experiences shared by Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans. Moreover, it is ever apparent that these veterans are ready and willing to lead our country beyond the Iraq War era, while protecting their fellow countrymen from experiencing the same crises they personally witnessed and experienced in Iraq.
    The energy security and development experiences gained from Operation Iraqi Freedom, now serve as the foundational strength of returning Iraq War veterans that are pursuing careers toward a new American freedom – energy independence. Perhaps, the single greatest benefit to America from those ten years of war in Iraq is the knowledge and experience gained by young veterans who lead energy security and development efforts while combat. Under those extreme environments and conditions, they polished and refined their energy-market knowledge and leadership skills, and are now well equipped to lead the Age of Sustainability. It is these men and women who best understand the consequences of our country’s dependence on foreign fuels, because they bare the scars of those consequences. Indeed, they have heeded our nations’ call to action against terrorists and tyrants, and are now heeding the call to secure our nations’ energy future. It is this same decree that lead to the creation of HEVO Power and many other veteran-owned businesses alike.

    There is a new vision of energy security quietly being developed and deployed in our country by many Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans, with the mission to secure our energy independence. It is a mission that began on the battlefields in places like Baghdad, Fallujah, Basra and Mosul, and is now fueled by the tenacious spirit of the men and women who more than understand the ultimate cost of not securing a sustainable future in America. As they trade their uniforms for suits, and their helmets for hardhats, they will continue leading our country to finally free ourselves from the terrorists and tyrants that disrupt our way of life and threaten our national security efforts. As such, they do so with the everlasting memories of their fallen brothers and sisters who made the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of freedom, while shouldering the burden of preventing our next generations from experiencing the same fates.

    In keeping the memory of my fallen brothers alive, and to the heroic men and women of 1-64th Armor Regiment and Delta Company, I say to you all:

    “Mission First, Men Always.”

    Written in memory of SFC Shawn Suzch, SSG Ernesto Cimmarusti, SSG David Julian, CPL Robert McDavid CPL Scott McIntosh and Interpreter Saif Shakur.

  • Veterans in Solar: Q&A with Nat Kreamer, CEO, Clean Power Finance

    This article is a Q&A between Jaclyn Houser, Advocacy Director of Operation Free, and Nat Kreamer, CEO of Clean Power Finance and former Intelligence Officer, Special Forces, United States Navy

    Jaclyn Houser: Can you tell me about your military experience?

    Nat Kreamer: I joined the Army during business school as an officer candidate because the country was at war and I wanted to serve. The Army ‘branched’ me Field Artillery. After training at Fort Sill, I learned that the Navy was looking to grow its Special Forces intelligence capabilities, which sounded exciting to me, so I branch transferred to the Navy. As a junior officer, I served at the Office of Naval Intelligence, leading counter-terrorism analysts, the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and the US Third Fleet, where I was the Senior Targeting Officer in the Combat Air Operations Center (CAOC).  I fought with JSOC in Afghanistan in 2006, where I was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.

    Jaclyn Houser: What was your “ah-ha” moment, when you saw first-hand the national security impacts of our energy use?

    Nat Kreamer: In Afghanistan, my commander, Colonel Joseph Hartman, who knew I was an energy strategy consultant in the civilian world, asked me, “Kreamer, You know we’ve spent half a trillion dollars in this war (i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan). If we had invested that money in clean energy back home instead, would we be fighting in Iraq today?”  After some calculations, I answered him, “No, we would not be fighting this war.  With half a trillion dollars invested back home in renewable energy we could redefine the energy landscape and be able to cut off the petro-dollars financing our enemies (i.e. terrorists) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Gulf.”

    Jaclyn Houser: So with your experience, how did this guide your career in clean energy when you returned from Afghanistan?

    Nat Kreamer: Before deploying to Afghanistan I worked on a power market analysis project to determine if California would have enough power generation capacity. During that project I figured out that there was a big business opportunity in distributed solar—building solar generation on homes and businesses—and came up with the idea to create a company that owned solar systems on consumer’s homes and sold them clean, affordable electricity.

    I volunteered for deployment and went to Afghanistan after the project ended. In Afghanistan, I realized that we had to cut off funding sources to terrorists and insurgents to permanently win the war. The two best ways to permanently cut off funding to AFPAK terrorists and insurgents are: a) wheat-for-poppy crop-substitution in Afghanistan that eliminates the protection money farmers paid to the Taliban; and b) renewable energy use at home to deny the jihad our petro-dollars.  I got ‘religion’ about renewable energy fighting in Afghanistan.

    Returning home in 2007, I turned the idea for a residential solar power generation company into SunRun and sold the first residential solar purchase agreement. This kick-started a multi-billion-dollar residential solar industry, making clean electricity cost-saving for average Americans. Today, you can buy solar electricity and use it to power an electric car for fewer than ten cents per mile versus running on gasoline at twenty cents or more per mile. The compelling home economics of solar electricity and electric cars will cut off the petro-dollar supply to our enemies.

    Jaclyn Houser: In your opinion, why are veterans – particularly returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans – ideal candidates for a career in the solar industry?

    Nat Kreamer: The United States military is the best training institution in the country – and it’s an institution that instills a level of discipline and work ethic. Given their training and backgrounds, veterans are great candidates for work in solar for three reasons:

    First, solar is an industry that is growing really fast, and we don’t have the time to be on the training ground. We need disciplined, motivated, and skilled workers – and we need to them to come ready. Veterans are used to being dropped into unpredictable situations and forced to pick up skills quickly, which makes them ideally suited to the rapid expansion and changing nature of this industry.

    Second, the solar industry is filled with people who are passionate about the job and who work together to help people, the environment, and national security.  Solar, like the military, is not just about the paycheck; it’s also about working for something larger than oneself.

    Third, in a fast growing industry, you need people who can take charge. One of the challenges in start-ups is building a team of people who know how to lead. We need the person who was doing the task yesterday to be the person teaching someone else to lead today.

    Jaclyn Houser:  Is there a need of the industry that veterans are particularly adapted to fill?

    Nat Kreamer: The solar industry is currently underinvested in the supply chain, which imposes a  limit on scalability and capacity building of the industry as a whole. Former military come ready-made for supply chain development and execution. They have both the skill set and talent to manage large-scale operations in part because the logistics for an industry like solar is comparable in many ways to how logistics are managed in the military – all the way from the warehouse to the field.

  • 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.

  • 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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