Bottom line: With or without Keystone XL, we will remain dependent on oil from the Middle East. We will still be held hostage to oil-producing countries with unfriendly governments, like Iran. We will still be subject to the same high gas and oil prices set by a global marketplace, not by Canada or any other single country.
There’s another reason why Keystone XL could hurt, not help, our national security.
The longer we stay focused on finding ways to keep ourselves shackled to oil and other fossil fuels, the longer we postpone our opportunity to develop new, renewable sources of energy that actually will improve our energy and national security.
The only way we can reduce our vulnerability to rising oil prices, volatile supplies and foreign suppliers is to reduce our dependency on oil. And the only way we can do that is to use more efficient vehicles that let us to drive further with less oil, and develop our own sources of renewable energy right here in the United States.
Nobody can blockade the sun that shines on solar panels in the United States. Nobody can stop the wind from blowing across our plains. And nobody can top American ingenuity to develop even more renewable energy breakthroughs in the future.
The U.S. military knows this very well. That’s why every branch of the military is aggressively developing sources of alternative fuels to reduce supply vulnerabilities, reduce costs, and most of all, to help keep our troops out of harm’s way in the future.
My own Air Force, for example, has set a goal of acquiring half of its domestic aviation fuel from alternative sources by 2016. We can now fly A-10C attack jets and supersonic F-22 Raptors using fuel blends based on an inedible weed-like plant called camelina.
The Navy is powering aircraft and ships with oil derived from algae and used cooking oil. The Army and the Marines are developing hybrid vehicles and powering barracks and forward operating bases with solar and wind.
The military’s push into renewable fuels, in turn, is driving innovation in the private sector. It has led to the establishment of made-in-America renewable energy companies from California to Montana to Louisiana and all across our land, creating real and lasting American jobs along the way.
The Keystone XL pipeline won’t do any of that.
It will simply be one more way to keep us addicted to oil, keep us vulnerable to international crises and keep our national security at risk.
Lt. Gen. Norman Seip (Ret.) spent 35 years in the Air Force before retiring as commander, 12th Air Force, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. He is the owner of NS Solutions, LLC, an independent defense and energy security consulting firm, and Operation Free, a non-profit, non-partisan nation-wide organization made of up over 800 veterans from the conflicts of Iraq and Afghanistan who advocate for energy independence and security in order to keep our nation safe and strong.