06/01/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Energy: Time to Pay the Bill; This Means Drilling

The United States is built on cheap energy. Today energy is no longer cheap and our consumption is out of control. Operation Free rolled into town on their bus doing the Veterans for American Power tour. These soldiers know the true value of energy. These soldiers know the hard choices to be made in bad situations. In Iraq, some drove convoys to supply forward bases with fuel and water. These soldiers know that the price of fuel and water can come in the currency of blood, sweat and tears. They demand better for our nation and demand you know the 'real' cost of American dependence on oil. Our refusal to constrain and diversify energy consumption funds the very enemies fighting our way of life and our military. These young soldiers point out that our wild consumption of fossil fuels places our national security at risk.

Veterans for American Power tour visited Scranton, Pennsylvania this week to stress that our country must transition from fossil fuels. Not just because of climate change, America's cost of energy is far too high for the nation to thrive economically or socially. Appearing on WILK with talk show host and known conservative Sue Henry, two troops from the bus tour made very clear that they were not "tree hugging environmentalists" but rather proud veterans concerned for America's future and national defense. This is not a moderate/conservative issue; the energy future of America will determine the literal future of the United States. We cannot keep sending vast quantities of dollars overseas while trying to rebuild an economy at home. Jobs must be a major concern. Energy will provide both jobs and the catalyst to create more jobs and businesses.

The Department of Defense, the Department of State and the Central Intelligence agency recognize the vulnerabilities posed by climate change and our dependence on fossil fuels. Addressing climate change, China and India are leading the way, often using US companies to create the new and growing energy technologies of the future. Our country could recede into an economic and scientific backwater by ignoring the future. DoD is planning entire green fleets in the not distant future. But "green" technologies are not the only answer. There can be no instant switch to alternative energies. Our demand is too large and our flexibility is too limited.

Our goal should be a steady transition to less and less dependence on fossil fuel while using ever cleaner forms of fossil energy now. Coal provides tremendous amounts of electricity to our grid. Coal cannot, nor should it be, replaced overnight. Perhaps new cleaner coal technologies will make our huge coal reserves useful into the foreseeable future. Increased Natural Gas drilling will provide cleaner energy to replace dirtier fossil fuels. While not a fossil fuel, nuclear power provides about 20% of our energy requirement. Nuclear power supplies to the grid cannot be replaced economically in the short term. At the very least, the nation must replace nuclear facilities as they age. The key for the nation should be the widest possible development of new and cleaner energy.

New energy sources might actually foster greater local independence and freedom as areas develop the most economically feasible energy alternatives for their region. Perhaps the very newest possibilities being developed in garages across the nation will lead to energy independence on an individual basis. Some may laugh at that dream but, as one whose college career started in huge rooms filled with machinery and heat to house a single computer of very limited capability, now I hold access to the Internet literally in the palm of my hand. I never doubt the creativity and imagination of my fellow citizens. I know of what our citizens and country are capable; these young veterans and their peers are even more capable and dedicated to making the future better. Watching the Veterans for American Power tour, leaving town for its next stop, I was certain that the future is in good hands even if it does mean more drilling in the short term.