In a conference call hosted this Tuesday by the Americans United for Change campaign, several national security experts lead by Congressman John Boccieri (D-OH, 16th district of Canton) discussed why the Waxman-Markey clean energy and security bill (ACES) is crucial for national security, not just for the environment.
Others who weighed in on the topic included an Iraq veteran, a former deputy national security adviser and a senior fellow from the Center for American Progress. After the opening statements were made by each panelist, they also took questions from members of the press, who raised concerns about ramifications from the bill and wanted the panel to quantify the number of new green jobs that would be created by it. The major focus of the conference call was on U.S dependence on foreign oil and the urgent need to wean ourselves from it, for security reasons.
U.S Rep. Boccieri, who is also a major in the Air Force Reserve, was vociferous in his support of the bill and the boost it would give his home state of Ohio in terms of new jobs, revenue and tapping coal reserves.
“As a matter of our economic and national security we must end our dependence on foreign sources of energy and become energy independent in order to fuel our progress and defend our country. The pillars of the American Clean Energy and Security Act will create hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide that cannot be outsourced; producing clean, green energy; protecting our national security; and moving away from our dependence on foreign energy, especially oil,” said Boccieri, firing the opening salvo.
Lieutenant General Donald L.Kerrick (Ret.), who was the deputy national security adviser in the Clinton cabinet and is a member of the National Security Network, pointed out that climate change has been determined by the National Intelligence Council as one of three major threats that could destabilize the international system, leading to refugees from distressed regions, or a war over resources or increasingly destructive weather events - all of which could undermine U.S and international security.
Lt.Gen. Kerrick emphasized that national security begins at home and that the U.S needs to get its energy and climate policies in order, to prevent such catastrophes and to respond to other nations' needs.
Backing up his support for the ACES bill by highlighting several advantages, Lawrence Korb, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information (which does research on security policy), pointed out that the clean energy legislation does four specific things to improve national security.
"If we lessen our dependence on foreign oil, this gives us more flexibility in dealing with the Persian Gulf area. Second, climate change can lead to failed states; when you have failed states, they can become havens for terrorists; they can spread instability in the region and with globalization among others things, you could have disease. Third, by creating jobs here at home, this improves our economy and a strong economy is a foundation for a robust national security. If our economy doesn’t come back, it’s going to be very difficult for us to spend what we need to on defense," Korb said.
The panelists brought up the fact that the Department of Defense is the largest consumer of oil and anything that can be done to lesson its dependence on oil will help reduce the cost of the defense budget and the dependence on oil from very unstable areas in the world. Korb went so far as to say that because the U.S depends on oil from countries like Saudi Arabia, it takes away flexibility and restricts the U.S from negotiating with them in other areas.
Jon Solz, an Iraq war veteran and co-founder of VoteVets.org commended the House on passing the bill and stressed that the Senate had to follow through and get the bill to President Obama. Solz also made the connection to Republican support of the bill, pointing out that in 2008, all of the Republican Presidential candidates linked clean energy with national security.
Answering questions from the press at the end, U.S Rep. Boccieri said, "It is not a perect bill but it is the first comprehensive effort in the U.S which will have a snowball effect."
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