Why Switching to Electric Vehicles Improves National Security, the Environment, and Our Economy

Originally written for the Sierra Club's Go Electric campaign and posted as a Guest Commentary at http://www.kcet.org/updaily/so…

I just bought a new car and will never need  to buy gasoline again.  The reason I have been able to happily drive  past increasingly expensive gas stations isn't because I haven't been  driving the car, it's because the car I bought runs entirely on  electricity.  


My decision to purchase an electric car was driven by a variety of  reasons, but the simplest reason was this: The cost of filling up with  gas is just too much.  I'm not just writing about the price we're paying  at the pump; I am also referring to the cost to our future generations,  our national security, and our economy.  As a veteran, I have seen the  toll these costs take and I am doing what I can to stop contributing to  the problem.

Tim Goodrich, right, stands next to his new electric car with founding member of Plug in America, Paul Scott | Photo via Tim Goodrich 



At the age of 18, I enlisted in the active  duty Air Force and went on to deploy three times to the Middle East, supporting the no fly zones over Iraq, the initial response to  Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, and the pre-war bombing of Iraq. My unit also supported homeland defense operations and after my honorable  discharge, I traveled to Baghdad as part of a fact finding delegation.  


Through these experiences, I came to see that our foreign policy  needs to evolve in order to provide smarter national security here at  home. After all, how much sense does it make to spend $400 per gallon  getting gas to our service members in remote regions of Afghanistan?   How much sense does it make to send money to countries that don't like  us, don't share our values, and sometimes find ways to get that money  into the hands of terrorist organizations?  The Rand Corporation found  that US armed forces spend up to $83 billion annually protecting  vulnerable infrastructure and patrolling oil transit routes. US Navy  Secretary Roy Mabus recently said, "The Army did a study and found that  out of every 24 fuel convoys we use [in Afghanistan], a soldier or  marine is killed or wounded guarding that convoy. That's a high price to  pay for fuel."


For these reasons, our military is currently researching and using  alternative energy technologies in the field. If our military as a whole  sees the importance of getting off fossil fuels, and the lives of our  service members depend on it, I want to support that effort.


As a child, growing up in a small suburb of Buffalo, NY, I was  introduced to environmental technology at an early age when my parents  installed a passive solar heating system on our house. I thought it was  amazing that, despite the sub-zero temperatures outside, we could get  free heat from the sun distributed throughout the house. All the kids  from school who came to see it on a field trip thought so too. Now that  I'm older and see the importance of using technology in a way that will  allow us to leave the earth in better condition than when we found it.


My current home, Los Angeles, has the second smoggiest air in the  country. Most Americans drive less than 40 miles per day, and most new  electric car models go up to 100 miles before having to recharge. Just  think of how much cleaner our air would be if even a third of the  population purchased an electric car, which studies have shown are 35 to  60% cleaner than traditional vehicles -even on today's electricity  grid.   In future years, as we shift to an energy portfolio containing  more renewable resources like solar and wind, driving will actually  become greener.America's  addiction to oil is as damaging to our economy as it is to our  environment.  Every year, we send at least $250 billion  to overseas  countries because the cars we drive have an insatiable thirst for oil.  In other words, about half of our trade deficit is due to imported crude  petroleum.  This trade deficit has contributed to circumstances that  created one of the worst economic downturns in this country since the  Great Depression.  Wouldn't it be great to save money by fueling our  vehicles with electricity rather than gas and also have that money stay  in our country where it can be reinvested in our economy?

If you're like me and want to breathe cleaner air, support our service  members and national security, and improve our economy, consider making  the switch to an electric car. Besides being patriotic, getting thumbs  up at red lights all over town and saving a ton of money by driving past the pump feels pretty good.



One thought on “Why Switching to Electric Vehicles Improves National Security, the Environment, and Our Economy”

  1. bicycles, carpooling, pedestrian-friendly city planning, efficient homes and buildings, mass transit, electrified high speed rail, energy/water efficiency drives and appliance standards, renewable energy production, backyard gardens and composting, etc. etc. etc.

    lots of silver BBs put together are what’s going to get us out of this trap.

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