Military Veterans: National Security Threatened by Less Climate Protection
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The safety of Tennesseans could be threatened by a rollback in climate change protections, according to numerous current and retired members of the military.
Retired Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney, CEO of the American Security Project, points out climate change already is destabilizing volatile regions such as the Middle East, and threatening U.S. military bases as sea levels rise.
Cheney says the president's statement that the EPA's Clean Power Plan would do irreparable harm to the nation is simply not true.
"Let's not be rash and say things just because the Obama administration did something, now we're going to do just the opposite,” he states. “Let's look at all the parameters that are around these decisions and recognize what truly is best for our country."
The administration maintains that climate regulations cost jobs and hinder growth. But Cheney notes that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is among those who believe climate change is man-made and a threat to stability, and Mattis is likely to include it in his national security plans.
Jonathan Gensler is an Iraq war veteran who now works as an energy consultant in Nashville. He says while the federal government talks of dialing back climate protections, cities such as Nashville are blazing their own trail.
"Here in Tennessee, it's the action of the cities not the state,” he points out. “Specifically the City of Nashville has some tremendous sustainability initiatives going on and has become a resilient city."
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry initiated a Livable Nashville Committee to enhance the city's livability and environmental quality. Knoxville also has an Energy and Sustainability Initiative.
Cheney sees the administration's efforts to roll back protections in direct conflict with the very people charged to protect the country.
"Now we have a commander in chief who is in direct disagreement with the generals who he claims to support and trust,” Cheney observes. “I think you would be hard pressed to find senior leadership at the Pentagon that doesn't take the threat of climate change seriously, all the way up to and including his own Secretary of Defense."
While the Defense Department has been planning for climate change for more than a decade, in 2014 and 2016 Republicans in the House of Representatives added language to Defense Department spending bills prohibiting funds from being spent to plan or prepare for climate change.