In 1999, both houses of Congress passed legislation — originally introduced by U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) — designating the month of May as “Military Appreciation Month.”
While there are numerous ways Americans can show their appreciation for the U.S. Armed Forces, one Arizona veteran leader says we can thank our military by advocating for policies that encourage more domestic energy production.
“One of the best ways we can show our appreciation for our military is to press our federal policymakers to make it easier to develop energy resources here at home, instead of buying so much of it from the Middle East,” said Harry Prestanski, veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, and volunteer chair of Arizona Vets4Energy. “The more energy we’re forced to buy from regimes that don’t share American values, the more it puts men and women of our military at risk.”
Prestanski noted that Arizona U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have been strong on energy independence issues, noting both senators’ support for the Keystone XL Pipeline approval, as well as opening the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf to oil and gas exploration.
“Our U.S. Senators here in Arizona have been pretty good on our issues,” he said. “Unfortunately, too many of their colleagues, as well as the Obama Administration, have worked to block our path to energy independence.”
In August 2014, Flake, a member of the U.S. Senate Energy Committee, was part of a group of twenty U.S. Senators who sent a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell “urging her to expand development of oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico, and to open new areas offshore with great resource potential, including off the cost of Alaska and in the Atlantic Ocean.”
In February 2016, however, Jewell announced that the Obama Administration would prevent oil and natural gas development in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), located off the shores of mid-Atlantic states. Some experts believe the OCS actually contains more than the 4.7 billion barrels of oil and 37 trillion cubic feet of natural gas previously identified through older seismic testing technology.
Prestanski disagreed with that decision, telling Arizona Business Daily that “Every step backward from energy independence is a step back from strengthening our national security.”
“It’s also a step backward for veterans who have served this country and many of whom would have filled the new energy-related jobs that have been stymied by the Administration's decision,” he added.