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On Memorial Day, veterans say battling climate change is key

© iStock - tumsasedgars
Suzanne Potter

(California News Service) This Memorial Day, state and local leaders are speaking out - calling climate change the battle of our time - crucial to national security. 

Advocates are calling on President Joe Biden to invoke the Defense Production Act to speed up the transition to renewable energy and phase out dependence on fossil fuels. 

Mayor Daniel Lee of Culver City is a veteran of the Air Force and the California Air National Guard who currently works as project director at the James Lawson Institute. He said the invasion of Ukraine is being financed by Russian oil and gas.

"The war in Ukraine is a resource war," said Lee. "And the more the world doesn't rely on Russian oil for electricity for heating or cooling, the less we are apt to engage in resource wars and the more we can slow down the effects of climate change."

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Russian oil and gas make up 40 percent of Europe's energy consumption, but countries are working to reduce that dependence as quickly as possible.

New Mexico State Rep. Debbie Sarinana - D-Albuquerque - also is an Air Force veteran. She noted that climate change is fueling extreme drought and massive wildfires across the West - so leaders must act to slow the damage.

"We have people dying for our country," said Sarinana. "And what kind of country do we have, if climate change continues? Our planet can't sustain this much longer. We're just borrowing the world from our grandkids."

Five hundred state and local leaders, including Lee and Sarinana, have signed a petition from the group "Elected Officials to Protect America" calling on the administration to declare a climate emergency and implement a clean-energy plan. They both serve as members of the group's leadership council.