That’s why I’m proud to stand with Operation Free, a nationwide coalition of veterans who recognize that oil dependence poses a serious threat to our national security. Veterans of Operation Free are continuing their service to our nation by advocating for clean, domestic energy production that will reduce America’s oil dependence and make America more competitive in clean energy.
Our military and security leaders know that the cost of oil is too high in American treasure and American lives. The Department of Defense spent $15 billion last year on fuel for its military operations, amounting to more than 75 percent of its energy costs. And the price volatility of oil has a significant budgetary impact on DoD; for every $1 rise in the price of a barrel of oil, DoD pays $130 million in additional fuel costs. And in Afghanistan, where we consume an average of 50 million gallons of fuel per month, one in every 24 fuel convoys results in an American casualty.
Recognizing these security threats, the military is leading our nation in the development and deployment of clean, alternative energy. Solar panels and wind turbines are replacing inefficient diesel generators on forward operating bases, and a microgrid will soon power Bagram Air Field. This and other energy security initiatives on the front lines will save more than 20 million gallons of fuel per year and remove more than 7,000 fuel trucks from treacherous routes through the mountains of Afghanistan.
These important investments aren't just on the front lines. On the home front, the Army, Navy and Air Force have committed to deploy 3 gigawatts of renewable energy – equivalent to the energy generated by 3 power plants - on their installations by 2025. New buildings on domestic Army posts will be “net zero” by 2030. Advanced microgrid systems will strengthen our energy security by allowing military bases to maintain critical functions for weeks or months if the commercial grid is disrupted. Just two weeks ago, I was at Camp Lejeune, NC, as part of my duties as a Marine Corps reservist. I was proud to see that they had installed new solar panel arrays as overhead covering for military vehicles that powered the lighting for the truck ports. And the Navy is investing in advanced biofuels that promise to reduce our dangerous demand for oil.
It is clear that our military, led by Secretary Panetta, understands the security implications of our nation’s energy policies. Secretary Panetta is working to prepare our military for the 21st century realities and challenges that lie ahead. Our elected officials need follow the military’s example, before it is too late.
I invite Senator Inhofe to meet with me and other Operation Free veterans who have dedicated their lives to keeping America safe. We would be happy to set the record straight: investing in clean energy strengthens our security, and saves American lives.
Lambert is a State Senator from New Hampshire, a U.S. Marine Corps reservist and member of Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security experts working to secure America through clean energy.