As North Carolinians, we are ever aware of the men and women who protect our communities every day. One hundred miles inland from the Wilmington area, we have one of the largest military installations in America – Fort Bragg. In eastern North Carolina, we also are proud to have Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point in Boiling Spring Lakes, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters in Raleigh, and Coast Guard stations from Elizabeth City to Oak Island.
We know firsthand the importance of our service members in uniform and our veterans because they are part of the fabric of our communities. We see them at our cookouts. We know what it’s like to check on a neighbor’s yard while he or she is deployed for months at a time. Our kids know someone to personally thank on Memorial Day, Veterans Day and the Fourth of July.
But more than this, those of us in eastern North Carolina are acutely aware of the true cost of freedom. Unfortunately, we too often see painful reminders of the sacrifices current and former members of our military have made for us.
While the United States is now the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, due in large part to safe and responsible offshore drilling and hydraulic fracturing, our energy supply is still not entirely homegrown. The U.S. is fully capable of meeting its own energy demands without relying on overseas suppliers, including those in the politically volatile Middle East. However, we are increasingly making that more difficult by not adequately exploring all of our domestic resources and by imposing overly burdensome regulations on the production of those we identify.
In the unsettled world of the 21st century, owning and controlling our own sources of energy is vital. Our country's dependence on importing energy from countries that do not necessarily have our best interests in mind presents economic, geopolitical and national security challenges. Because this energy frequently comes from politically unstable regions of the world, it predisposes the price of energy to massive fluctuations, which in the past have hit Americans hard. While the domestic production boom of the last eight to 10 years has substantially mitigated instability in global markets, contributing to the record low oil and gasoline prices of late, we still have a long way to go to ensuring our energy security, and thus our national security, for future generations.
A stark reality has become clear: Either Americans will commit to securing our country’s own energy supply, or the U.S. will remain beholden to those whose values don’t align with our own. And with that comes continuing to place our beloved men and women of the armed services in harm’s way.
At a time when Americans want to ensure that our troops are not shipped overseas to wage conflicts related to the protection of our energy interests, we hinder the ability to keep our soldiers, sailors, airmen and airwomen, Marines and Coast Guard members safe by not allowing for a constructive conversation around the issue of energy.
We owe it to ourselves and our military service members to consider that America’s energy security equates to America’s national security.
David McGowan III is executive director of the North Carolina Petroleum Council. The North Carolina Petroleum Council is a division of American Petroleum Institute, which represents all segments of America's technology-driven oil and natural gas industry. Its 500-plus members provide most of the nation's energy. For more information, go to http://www.api.org or contact McGowan at [email protected].
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