Senator Merkley, Veterans Release Operation Free Energy Security Report

Washington, DC: U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and top retired military leaders held a telephone press conference today to announce the release of Operation Free’s new report, entitled “Tackling Oil Addiction: Reducing Dependency on Our Enemies.”  The report, co-sponsored by the Truman National Security Project, outlines the security implications of America’s addiction to oil and praises the EPA for its efforts to protect America through higher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles from small cars to 18-wheelers.

On today’s call were U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR); Lt. General Norman Seip, USAF (ret.); former US Army Captain and Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran Jim Morin; Operation Free campaign director and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jonathan Murray.

Speakers praised the EPA for its efforts to reduce our dependence on oil and our contribution to climate change through its ambitious fuel efficiency targets, and will encourage final regulations that adhere to the high proposed standards of 62 mpg by 2025 for cars and light trucks and a 20% reduction in fuel consumption by 2017 for heavier trucks.  Veterans highlighted the Defense Department’s decision to identify climate change as a threat to national security and underscored the fact that America’s oil money funds terrorism around the world. 

“Our oil addiction poses a great vulnerability, and raising mileage standards is an easy way to make us stronger and safer,” said Senator Jeff Merkley.  “By developing vehicles that drive more miles on less fuel we can put more money in the pockets of families, help American businesses create jobs, and loosen the grip that foreign nations like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Venezuela have on the energy that powers our economy.”

“America’s military and security leaders know that oil dependence and climate change are a threat our national security,” said Jonathan Murray, US Marine Corps veteran and Operation Free campaign manager.  “The EPA’s efforts to raise fuel efficiency standards complement the Department of Defense’s efforts to find new sources of clean energy to power our ships, planes and tanks and reduce our dependence on oil.”

“Our current energy policy sends approximately a billion dollars a day overseas for oil, enriching hostile regimes and the fundamentalists they support,” said Jim Morin, who received two Bronze Stars for his service in the US  Army. “A 60 mpg fuel economy standard could go a long way to freeing the U.S. from Persian Gulf and Venezuelan crude oil imports and reducing our dependency on those who despise our values.  This policy shift will reward American ingenuity at the same time it delivers a punch straight to the pocketbook of those individuals and nations that support extremist groups.”

The new gas mileage standards are consistent with the roadmap oil independence that Senator Merkley introduced in June 2010.  Senator Merkley’s Oil Independence Plan is available for review here.

Operation Free is a coalition of veterans and national security organizations dedicated to securing America with clean energy. Operation Free sponsors the Veterans for American Power National Tour, a 29 state tour of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans making the connection between energy policy and national security. Learn more at Operation Free is an advocacy campaign of the Truman National Security Project.