Military veterans on a 21-state bus tour to alert people to climate change and what they say is its threat to national security brought their case to Columbia and Greenville on Thursday. The tour is sponsored by Operation Free.
In Columbia, they were joined by city officials and former and current military officers, including state Sen. John Courson, a retired Marine officer, R-Richland, and Rep. James Smith, D-Richland.
Courson said he hopes his 13-year-old son someday considers joining the Marine Corps, "But I don't want him involved in fighting oil wars in the Middle East."
Smith, who served in Afghanistan in 2007 in Operation Enduring Freedom, told the veterans, "This is an effort that knows no party. We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make our country safer."
Former staff sergeant and Charleston native Ed May, who is on the tour, said serving in the Gulf War brought home to him the need to wean the U.S. off oil. "For 30 years, we've talked about energy independence. We need to stop talking and do something," May said.
Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security groups, supports a clean energy plan that cuts carbon pollution, develops clean energy incentives and puts America in control of its energy future.