There are 721,575 veterans residing in the state of Illinois, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and many of them will be observing the month of May as “Military Appreciation Month.”
Congress gave the month of May that designation back in 1999, and one Illinois veteran leader says one way we can thank our military is by moving toward greater energy independence.
“More than 200,000 of Illinois’ veterans served in the Gulf War — an area of the world where we still buy too much of our oil,” said Keith Pekau, Captain, USAF (ret.), the volunteer chair of Illinois Vets4Energy. “It’s high time we started producing more of our energy here at home, for us and our allies, rather than purchasing it from unstable and less friendly regions.”
Pekau said that President Obama’s recent actions to ban oil and gas development in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), implement regulations to drastically reduce and eliminate coal production and deny permitting for the Keystone XL pipeline negatively impacts our country’s national security.
“Those decisions put fear ahead of facts and environmental activists over American veterans and military,” he said. “Every time we act to impede north American energy production, it sends a message that we and our allies will continue to rely on less friendly regimes to buy our oil. And that puts our nation and our military at risk.”
The Obama Administration’s March decision to ban drilling in the Atlantic OCS impacts the area located off the shores of mid-Atlantic states, from Virginia to Georgia. Previous testing found the Atlantic OCS to hold as much as 4.7 billion barrels of oil and 37 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Some experts, however, believe those numbers of conservative and that modern testing would find significantly greater reserves.
While the drilling would take place off the East Coast, Pekau told Illinois Business Daily in March that the impact would be felt in Illinois.
"There are more than 700,000 veterans like me living here in the Land of Lincoln. Many of them served in unstable Middle Eastern countries where we're currently buying too much of our oil," said Pekau. "The Administration's anti-drilling move means we're going to continue to rely on those foreign regimes for our energy for years to come. That's a shame."