By Victoria Glynn
Today at the State Capitol in Phoenix, Arizona military veterans, elected officials, and community leaders called for increased investment in clean, local, and secure power. Veterans highlighted efforts by the Department of Defense, which have dramatically reduced their dependence on fossil fuels and curbed emissions from both their vehicle fleets and bases both at home and abroad.
A consensus of military leaders have identified climate change as a threat to our national security – as extreme weather drives resource conflict around the world, stretching our forces thin and diverting them from their core missions – and have moved aggressively to increase their use of renewable energy.
LTC Joe Knott, a retired Army officer with deep experience in Department of Defense Sustainability Programs, and a PHD Candidate at the ASU School of Sustainability, said, “Our military leaders get it, we need to reduce our carbon footprint in order to strengthen our national security. Renewable energy makes our military stronger and more resilient and that is why the Air Force has installed more than 30MW of solar power on Luke and Davis Monthan Air Force Bases, and why the Army will be installing 20MW on Fort Huachuca within the next two years. Clean, local and secure power creates jobs and makes our nation more secure.”
State Representative Mark Cardenas, an Army veteran who served in Iraq, stated that, “I observed our dependence on oil first hand in Iraq where I was in charge of escorting fuel convoys. We were hugely vulnerable on the road and we are equally as vulnerable here at home.”
Brett Hunt who leads the clean energy campaign, Operation Free, in Arizona made the case that “climate change represents a “threat multiplier” for our armed forces and we have to look no further than Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy where key military resources were rightfully diverted to deal with an extreme weather event. In 2011, in Pakistan, an enormous flood displaced millions leaving a vast ungoverned area for terrorism to take hold in.”
Other speakers present at the event included Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela and State Representative Andrew Sherwood.
The City of Phoenix has recently installed solar street lights which are stand-alone and self charging, reducing dependence on energy and reducing the city’s energy bills.
**Operation Free is a nationwide coalition of military veterans and national security experts who want to secure America with clean energy. Operation Free recognizes climate change as a threat to our national security. Operation Free in Arizona supports local, secure solar power and net energy metering policies.