few issues have transcended America’s political divide. Still, one place where Americans are broadly in agreement is that the sooner we stop importing oil from dictators and unstable regions around the world, the better off our nation will be.
The good news is, unlike some of the protracted partisan issues fights in Washington, D.C., you can do something to reduce our reliance on foreign oil today just by switching your transportation fuel.
Did you know the transportation sector is responsible for 68% of petroleum consumption in the U.S.? In 2019, Americans consumed an average of 9.31 million barrels of oil per day for gasoline. Add in diesel fuel for trucks, buses, ships, and trains, along with specialized aviation and jet fuel, and it’s easy to see how America has the largest appetite for oil in the world.
Our military understands the calculus of this imbalance of supply and demand better than most because our thirst for foreign oil has a direct consequence for the men and women who serve and protect our nation.
Too many American soldiers have died and will continue to die for our oil addiction. Take, for example, the turn-of-the-century wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where between 2003 and 2007, over 3,000 American soldiers or contractors were killed in fuel supply convoys. That’s over 3,000 empty seats during the holidays. Over 3,000 grieving families.
Famed conservative economist Alan Greenspan summed up what we all know to be true in his memoir, The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World. “I am saddened,” he writes, “that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq War is largely about oil.”
There’s also the phenomenal price tag that comes with dependence on fossil fuels. We spend roughly $81 billion per year escorting oil tankers and transporting oil across the globe. That’s the equivalent of a $630 annual tax on every household in America.
For the last decade, the military branch responsible for guarding foreign oil shipments, the US Navy, has been leading our nation in a new direction by leveraging the use of homegrown biofuels to improve their readiness and demonstrate the use of renewable fuels. The navy’s “Great Green Fleet” is already powering diesel-powered ships with a blend of biofuels, including beef fat, oil, and greases, to reduce petroleum use.
The Department of Defense recognizes “the reality of climate change and the significant risk it poses to US interests globally.” These experts understand that the climate crisis is a threat multiplier that undermines our safety and security here at home, puts US troops and bases at risk, and increases the chances of a global conflict.
For two-thirds of the world, renewable energy became the cheapest form of energy in 2019. It’s time to acknowledge that for America to lead the world as a military power, we must lead the world in clean transport energy, as well.
Our military is doing its part to keep us safe, and Washingtonians can help by supporting a clean fuel standard. Supporting homegrown, local fuels from food, farm, and forest waste not only honors those who have fought and died for our nation but puts us on a self-sustaining, secure, and climate-friendly path.
Washington already has enough forest waste to convert into sustainable aviation fuel for nearly half of the airplanes that fly out of Sea-Tac Airport, and renewable diesel for trucks and container ships at the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma will eliminate nearly 80% of the climate pollution they currently emit.
If you commute to work or school, your penny at the pump supports Washington’s small farmers at the same time it saves our soldiers and sailors from unnecessary dangers. It also introduces competition into the marketplace that has long been monopolized by giant oil companies that profit more per gallon of gasoline from Washington drivers than anywhere else in the nation.
Washington is the only state on the West Coast without a low carbon fuel standard, which would enhance our ability to be energy independent, while at the same time making it less profitable for global oil companies with no national allegiance to peddle their climate polluting product.And just like ships and jets that mix cooking oil, fats, grease, and other waste products to fuel their engines, every car, and truck sold in the United States since 2001 has been certified to run with a blend of biofuels.
The phrase ‘Support the troops’ gets thrown around like a meaningless platitude too often because it rarely includes an action step or sacrifice for the average civilian. But if you’d like to see that phrase turned into America’s next great rallying cry for energy independence and climate sanity, contact your legislator and tell him/her that supporting a clean fuel standard is one of the most patriotic actions they can take.