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Iraq and Afghanistan War Vets Denounce 'Energy Citizens' Campaign As "Oil Dependence Tour"

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Operation Free, a coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and national security organizations, today slammed the ‘Energy Citizens’ Astroturf campaign orchestrated by the American Petroleum Institute and other Big Oil interests as a detriment to America’s energy security.

“Veterans understand the connection between energy security, climate change and national security,” said Jon Powers, Chief Operating Officer of the Truman National Security Project and an Iraq war vet.

Describing climate change as a “threat multiplier” for the armed forces, Powers denounced the ‘Energy Citizens’ campaign, stating that Big Oil does not have America’s best interests at heart.  “Veterans do not want to see America’s national security in the hands of Big Oil,” said Powers during the press teleconference today.

Maine State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx, an Iraq war vet, said the ‘Energy Citizens’ campaign is “limiting meaningful debate on a serious national security issue,” and “watering down” the critical message that veterans and clean energy advocates have for Congress, which is to act immediately to address climate change in the interest of national security.  Rep. Cornell du Houx described witnessing long lines of cars and truck waiting for gasoline and diesel while on patrol in Iraq, and said he “never wanted to see the U.S. become even close to that dependent on oil.”


Drew Sloan, an Iraq and Afghanistan vet and former employee at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Rocky Mountain Institute, called the United States’ slow response to the threat of climate change “death by a thousand self-inflicted cuts.”  Using an analogy from the battlefield, Sloan called the climate crisis “a wound that will become increasingly difficult to heal” unless America acts fast to address it.

Sloan denounced ‘Energy Citizens’ and other oil and coal industry Astroturfing as “lies and misleading innuendo,” and described an unstable future in which American soldiers could lose their lives fighting wars over dwindling resources.

Iraq and Afghanistan vet Scott Holcomb, a part-time Professor at Georgia Tech, talked about the “lesson that all vets learn at a gut level - that tomorrow is never promised,” and related it to the need to make energy security a national priority.  “Soldiers will not have to go fight in resource wars if we act now,” he said.  “The more we can diversify our energy supplies and create domestic renewable sources, the better off we will be,” said Holcomb.

A group of roughly one hundred Operation Free veterans plans to visit Washington on September 9-10 for a day of action and meetings with Congress to relay the national security imperative of addressing climate change.  Veterans are also working within their local communities on what Powers described as “a real grassroots effort.”

He said that many veterans “continue to protect America when we get out of the service,” and that the group’s work to raise support for action on climate change is “another form of strengthening America.”
 
“We don’t have the money that Big Oil does to bus people around.  This is a genuine grassroots effort,” said Powers.

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