What do energy independence and energy security have to do with jobs in the green sector? Everything! Recently, I was lucky enough to attend the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) Energy Epicenter conference and the American Renewable Energy Foundation conference. It was a great opportunity to learn about the oil and gas and the renewable energy industries. What surprised me most was that both industries seem to be focused on the same thing – reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources. By doing so, we reduce the probability that we will become embroiled in a conflict in a volatile region fighting for a resource we own.
At the COGA conference, Dr. George Freidman of STRATFOR made a clear argument that reducing our dependence on foreign oil will enable us to pick and choose when and where we expend our political and military capital. While at the AREDAY forum, former presidential candidate and NATO Commander, General Wesley Clark, was equally clear that to reduce that dependence, all energy options must remain part of a comprehensive energy policy.
But reducing our country’s dependence on foreign oil is not just a matter of increasing production of North American sources of fossil fuels. It’s also a matter of decreasing our energy demands by changing the way we use energy as well as reducing our need for it by powering our systems with cleaner energy sources, including wind, solar and natural gas.
Increasing energy production and lowering consumption are simply part of the solution to an extremely complex problem. We need to develop a comprehensive national energy plan to cut ties to foreign oil and begin to make the transition to renewable energy, understanding that this transition may take 50 to 100 years. Dr. Scott Tinker from the University of Texas predicts that together, renewables, natural gas and nuclear energy could overtake coal and oil as our leading source of energy by 2064 – leading to a cleaner energy portfolio. Ignoring any source of energy at this point would be a mistake, just as it is unrealistic to say that we should immediately stop using coal and oil.
What does this have to do with jobs for veterans? Everything! Our veterans are poised to power the transition to a sustainable, reliable and ultimately, clean energy future. Careers in the renewable energy sector, as well as jobs in the natural gas industry, are a large part of the solution to our nation’s veteran unemployment problem. We can’t afford to waste an opportunity. Where will you weigh in to help power our future?
– John Toth, Veterans Green Jobs