Truman National Security Project Defense Council Member and Operation Free veteran, Brendan McKinnon, was interviewed by Public News Service about his personal experience safeguarding an Iraqi oil platform during his service and the military’s overall perspective on climate change.

AUGUSTA, Maine — As President Donald Trump rolls back programs that help slow climate change, national security experts say it could pose major problems for the U.S. military he’s trying to build up.

Defense Council member Brendan McKinnon with the Truman National Security Project said he didn’t spend much time thinking about the environment – until he was deployed to the Persian Gulf in 2008. He said the sole mission for he and fellow U.S. Coast Guard members was protecting the one functioning Iraqi offshore oil platform.

“The Defense Department has long recognized climate change not just as an environmental threat, but as a threat multiplier throughout the world, because it magnifies the issues that our military is deployed to deal with,” McKinnon said.

President Trump has argued that rolling back the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan is part of his larger strategy to minimize government regulations that he has said cost jobs and slow economic growth. But his environmental legacy is prompting some major push-back, including March for Science demonstrations in Maine and across the country scheduled for April 22 – Earth Day.

Retired Marine Corps General Stephen Cheney, CEO of the American Security Project, said Trump is ignoring the fact that climate change makes the military’s job harder and more dangerous. Cheney said he believes policies to fight a warming climate will make the nation safer in the long run.

“We feel strongly that the Clean Power Plan was a good idea, that we need to be transitioning over to renewable energies,” Cheney said. “We need to get off of fossil fuels – in particular, coal.”

According to McKinnon, 99 percent of scientists and a majority of Americans – including Trump voters – don’t want to ditch the Clean Power Plan. And he said there are opportunities for Mainers to stand up for their beliefs.

“The Science March [is] coming up later in the spring,” McKinnon said. “So, I think anything like that, where you can make your voice heard by the administration, so that they’re hearing from more than the 12 coal miners that are on the stage with the President that think it’s a good idea.”

So far, there are four March for Science events scheduled in Maine for April 22: in Machias, Orono, Portland and Sanford.

 

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