U.S. military veterans' groups are getting involved in the Congressional mileage debate. The AP reports that about three dozen veterans from the group New Hampshire for Peace wrote a letter to Congress this week calling for the 35 mpg level in the CAFE standards to remain in the final bill. The reasons are pretty self-explanatory, if you see the broader picture. For example, the veterans say that the 35 mpg level would reduce imports by 1.2 million barrels of oil which is, as the letter says, "more than twice the amount we import daily from Iraq." The letter continues, "Much of the global oil supply is located in unstable and sometimes hostile nations, especially in the Middle East, and the burden on our military to safeguard access to that oil increases daily" and "the wealth we transfer to these regions in oil revenues has been used, and continues to be used, to fund terrorism and extremist, anti-American ideologies."
An October letter sent by Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, USN, Retired, covered similar ground. You can read his letter after the jump and sign on by clicking here.

So, who's going to call out the politicians who put the desires of the automakers over the wishes of (at least some of) the troops?

[Source: AP, Environment Colorado]
AN OPEN LETTER TO CONGRESS ON OIL DEPENDENCY AND NATIONAL SECURITY

October 19, 2007

Dear Members of Congress:

As experienced and senior veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, and as professionals working in the field of national security, we urge your support for maintaining the 35 mile-per-gallon (mpg) by 2020 fuel economy standard recently approved by the U.S. Senate in H.R. 6, the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act.

As retired Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn has said, "Our continued dependence on oil constitutes a clear and present danger to our national security – economically, militarily and diplomatically." Increasing fuel efficiency is the most effective and efficient manner to decrease that dependence. Even the National Petroleum Council recommends improving fuel economy standards by the maximum rate possible. And, the National Academy of Sciences reported in 2002 that technology exists to increase fleetwide fuel economy to 37 mpg without changing the size, weight, or power of vehicles on the road today. The Senate bill, which only mandates 35 mpg, would save 1.2 million barrels per day – more than twice the amount we import daily from Iraq.

Much of the global oil supply is located in unstable and sometimes hostile nations, especially in the Middle East, and the burden on our military to safeguard access to that oil increases daily. Since fuel efficiency standards were allowed to stall in 1985, our net oil imports have more than doubled from 27% to 60%. Today, our nation imports over 10 million barrels of oil every day. And, the Department of Energy predicts that our dependence will grow again to 70% by 2025. Our military's presence in oil-rich nations of the Middle East alone cost the U.S. taxpayer more than $137 billion in 2006, according to the National Defense Council Foundation, whose analysis included the current Iraq war.

Reliance on unstable regions for a critical energy resource constrains U.S. foreign policy and can lead to political alignments that reduce U.S. leverage on other diplomatic issues. Additionally, the wealth we transfer to these regions in oil revenues has been used, and continues to be used, to fund terrorism and extremist, anti-American ideologies. According to the U.S. State Department, in 2006 alone there were over 14,000 terrorist attacks, including those in Iraq, killing more than 20,000 noncombatants. In addition, our reliance on foreign oil leaves us economically exposed to infrastructure attacks. As former CIA Director James Woolsey has said,

"The petroleum infrastructure is highly vulnerable to terrorist and other attack. The Islamist movement, pre-eminently al-Qaeda, has on a number of occasions explicitly called for world-wide attacks on the petroleum infrastructure and has carried some out in the Greater Middle East. Successful hits...could send oil prices much higher than even today's elevated prices."

Fortunately, the Senate has approved a bill that, according to retired Marine Corps General P.X. Kelley, "is the single most effective measure that can be taken to address the profound national security threat posed to the United States by our dependence on oil."

The Senate bill, H.R. 6, calls for a fleet-wide 35 mpg standard by 2020, reducing U.S. oil use by 1.2 million barrels per day in 2020. The Senate bill's flexible "attributes based" design, in which manufacturers would meet separate mileage requirements for different vehicles based on attributes such as size and weight, safeguards U.S. manufacturing and consumer choice.

We urge you to take bold and very much needed steps to help protect America by maintaining a 35 mpg fuel economy standard and opposing half-measures in the upcoming energy conference. To quote Vice Admiral McGinn, "As a nation, we can rise to this challenge now, with clear action and modern technology, to move beyond oil from unstable regions of the world." The longer we wait, the more dangerous and expensive the solution becomes.

Thank you for your attention to this critical national security matter.

Sincerely,

Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, USN, Retired


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