In Trump’s first 100 days, retired military brass calls for strong clean energy stance

Military and civilian personnel examine a solar array at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. (E2 photo)

In the first 100 days of the Trump administration, E2 members who are military veterans authored a trio of op-eds that ran in influential newspapers across the country. The op-eds urged the White House — and state governments — to defend and strengthen crucial clean energy policies in the name of our economy, environment and national security.

In Virginia, two retired generals — U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Norm Seip and U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney — explained how addressing climate change via clean energy is not a partisan issue.

“You don’t need to agree that climate change is a serious issue to see why it makes sense to have an independent supply of home-grown energy that creates jobs,” they wrote in the March 12 Virginian Pilot. “You don’t need to lean left or right politically, serve on a military base or be a veteran seeking good-paying work. Advancing our energy resources boosts our nation’s readiness and resilience. That benefits everyone.”

The generals also called upon the Commander-in-Chief to remember the importance of clean energy to our national security — and they urged Congress to step in when the president does not.

In Colorado, new E2 member and former U.S. Army officer Tony C. Williams urged his state to double-down on renewable energy and energy efficiency standards, and the White House to keep our nation committed to the Paris Agreement. He also shared a personal story of riding motorcycles with veterans who are concerned about finding work in the private sector.

“Through the Motorcycle Relief Project, I help lead ‘relief rides,’ or healing adventure tours with veterans around the Southwest,” Williams wrote in the March 15 Colorado Springs (Colo.) Gazette, hometown paper of the U.S. Air Force Academy. “On those motorcycle rides, I enjoy our region’s beauty, and at the same time hear about the concerns facing our returning combat veterans. One of those is finding a good-paying job.

“The clean energy sector is providing those jobs, from solar installers to turbine technicians to efficiency experts. It hires a greater percentage of veterans than other industries, including oil and gas.”

In Nevada, Dave Belote, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel and former commander of Nellis Air Force Base, wrote in the March 23 Nevada Independent that with so much uncertainty around federal energy policies, states have an opportunity and an obligation to step up.

Specifically, Belote said Nevada legislators can raise the state’s renewable portfolio standard and pass bills boosting rooftop solar and energy efficiency.

“These important policies represent an opportunity for Nevada to lead where our federal government does not,” he said.

Belote — who when he was Nellis commander helped build a massive solar array on the base — also pointed out how more clean energy improves our national security.

“I support a strong military, just as the president does,” Belote said. “At Nellis, I learned that we can accomplish goals of strengthening the military, creating jobs, and keeping our country safe by supporting sound clean energy and climate change policies.”

In recent testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense James Mattis seemed to agree with E2’s military veterans when it comes the the threat of climate change.

“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” he said.

It’s heartening to know that some in the Trump administration recognize how members of the military have long viewed climate change. In the coming months, E2 will continue to point out to lawmakers the military’s crucial role in advocating for strong clean energy policies that can help create more jobs for veterans, increase our national security and protect our environment.

— Environmental Entrepreneurs