The EPA held hearings on clean car standards yesterday and I had the opportunity to testify in support of the new standards that will help move us off our dependence on oil.
When I served in Iraq in and around Fallujah, I came across a line of cars, trucks, and tractors that stretched as far as I could see. We decided to investigate and finally reached the end of the line to find they had been waiting all day in 100-degree heat for gas and diesel. It struck me how dependent this nation was on a single source of energy and how crippled it made them. They were so desperate for this single source of energy that when the curfew set in they essentially rioted against us. It also made me pause and think about how the United States was dependent on this single source of energy as well, and how we are essentially forced to line up to countries like Iran and Venezuela for our fuel.
This is one of the reasons I joined Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations to ensure that we have an energy future that makes us more secure, boosts our economy, and keeps our environment healthy.
Our military leaders have taken note, and the Department of Defense, the nation's largest energy consumer, has a goal to reduce their carbon pollution 20 percent by 2020. The Quadrennial Defense Review stated, "While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world." The CIA has also opened a center on climate change.
The Army has one of the largest electric vehicle fleets in the world -- 4000 vehicles in three years. The Air Force will have 50 percent of its aviation fuel from biofuel blends by 2016. The Marines are aiming for a 30 percent energy reduction by 2015. The Navy is launching the Great Green Fleet by 2016, which includes hybrid destroyers and F18s that run off of biofuels. The Navy also aims to reduce petroleum use in commercial fleet by 50 percent by 2015.
When in Iraq, I saw that our dependency on oil was a constant threat to our security and independence. Our dependence on oil makes us vulnerable to unstable and unfriendly regimes. The Department of Defense has set ambitious goals to reduce our dependence on oil and improve fuel standards because they understand the threat it poses to our nation.
This is not just a lesson for our military. Not only does cutting our dependence on oil make us more secure, it invests hard earned American money back in to our economy. Every day, we are sending a billion dollars overseas to pay for oil, money that could be staying in this country and supporting our own economy. Nearly half of the oil is used is by our cars and trucks. Increasing fuel efficiency will have a huge effect on our national expenditures on oil.
A 54.5 mile-per-gallon standard for cars and light trucks by 2025 is the single biggest step we can take right now to curb this dangerous addiction to oil. It would help my community and countless others around the country improve their economic security. It will keep America competitive with foreign auto manufacturers, many of whom are already operating under higher standards than our own. And it would strengthen our national security, making us independent and keeping billions of our dollars out of the hands of people who don't have America's interests in mind.
By implementing these standards, we will be taking control of our energy future and creating a more secure America.