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AZ Views: A veteran’s take on our energy situation

Posted: August 3, 2012 at 12:50 pm   /   by

By Michael Vargas

Recently I was privileged to attend an energy-issues event in Washington, D.C as a veteran representative from Arizona.  It was personally exciting to meet and speak with leaders such as Congressman David Schweikert and Congressman Ben Quayle about our energy policies and energy future.  Representing our great state of Arizona as part of a national coalition of states called “Americas Energy Forum” was personally gratifying, and I look forward to growing our community’s knowledge on all issues energy.

As a Marine I was posted in Iraq and later in Afghanistan as part of the National Guard.  For those who have never had such an experience, seeing the stark difference between the way of life we live and what the citizens of those countries have to endure is motivating.  In both those countries (and many, many more), if there is running water, electricity and gas, it can’t be counted on to be consistent, affordable, safe or available.  Here in the U.S., we take for granted that the lights come on, clean water runs from the shower and we can get gas for our vehicles easily.  All those things add to our comfort, but we also have to consider how vital they are to our national security. When I came home, I thought a lot about our energy policies and how fragile we’ve become in this area.

It makes no sense that we’d allow ourselves to be dependent on energy sources that come from countries we can’t count as friends or even allies of convenience if the political situation shifts.  We have the most abundant natural resources anywhere in the world, yet we’ve allowed our policies and politics to bring us to the point that the very mention of drilling brings harsh, negative responses.  The fact is that the advancements we have made throughout the years allows us to use the latest technologies to expand our energy resources without creating environmental damage.  I believe that the future of our energy is dependent on coal to be clean-burning and fracking to be done without water contamination, and yet it seems that many think that depending on those who may well be an enemy are the safer option to supply us with energy.  It is a point-of-view that I disagree with wholeheartedly.

Our national security is of the utmost importance, but our economy is not far behind.  Jobs are the number one political issue this election season, yet we are still dithering on the Keystone Pipeline, off-shore drilling and coal mining, all of which go a long way to solve the our country’s unemployment rates.

No matter who we elect as President in November, we need to remember that our energy policies are vitally important to the future of our country.  I hope that our nation’s leaders remember that the next time they flip on the light switch or fill up for gas.


Michael served in both the United States Marines Corps and the Unites States Army National Guard.  In the Marines, Michael served in Iraq with the Second Battalion Fifth Marines.  In the Army, he deployed to Afghanistan as part of a provincial reconstruction team.  Michael is a graduate of Arizona State University.  As an undergraduate, Michael interned at the Department of Energy’s National Energy and Technology Laboratory as part of the Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship.  Michael was a recipient of the Horatio Alger Association Distinguished Americans Military Scholar Award and graduated Magna Cum Laude.    

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AZ Views: A veteran's take on our energy situation