Veterans Push Back Against Big Oil
Guest post by Frankie Sturm
Frankie Sturm is communications director at the Truman National Security Project and a freelance journalist.
Ed. note: As part of our ongoing relationship with the Truman National Security Project, I’m pleased to announce that we’ll be cross-posting some pieces from Operation FREE, a new initiative that seeks to raise awareness about the links between climate change, energy, and national security — an extemely worthwhile endeavour, to be sure. Operation FREE’s coalition includes the Truman Project, the National Security Network, VoteVets.org, and VetPAC. I encourage you to check out Operation FREE, including its blog — Michael Stickings.
No one is surprised that the American Petroleum Institute (API) is pulling out all the stops to prevent meaningful climate and energy legislation. By fronting a so-called “grassroots” organization called Energy Citizen, API is trying create the impression that the public is opposed to taking action to curb climate change and lessen our dependence on oil. But by busing in API employees, handing our hamburgers and hot dogs at rallies, and denying entrance to Energy Citizen events to actual citizens, few are buying API’s Potemkin publicity. And there’s one group in particular that isn’t having any of it: veterans.
On August 20, veterans pushed back against Big Oil in a conference call with reporters. Drew Sloan, veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and former employee of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, referred to climate change as “death by a thousand cuts.” Iraq veteran Scott Holcomb reminded those on the call how military personnel know that “tomorrow isn’t promised,” arguing that tomorrow is too late to begin taking action against climate change. All the veterans on the call expressed dismay that oil companies would be standing in the way of legislation to curb climate change and reduce our dependence on oil. They pointed out that a changing climate will destabilize volatile regions of the world, put U.S. military installations at risk, and force the U.S. to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian catastrophes.
The Financial Times and Grist magazine covered the veterans’ push against big oil, while Jim Morin of Operation Free and Lee Gunn of the American Security Project — both veterans — took to the pages of The New York Times to explain the links between climate change and national security.
[Ed. note: You can read Mr. Morin's and Admiral Gunn's letters to the editor here. Morin: "Put quite simply, if we refuse to fight climate change, we're choosing to put more American military men and women in harm's way." Gunn: "The writing is on the wall. The question is not whether we act or not, but whether we do so now or later, and deal with much more dire -- and expensive -- consequences." -- MS]