Victory Institute analyst Olen Davidson recently interviewed Tom Mullikin (a former U.S. Army officer, global expedition leader, environmental lawyer, and soon-to-be commander of South Carolina State Guard) on issues of energy security and climate change – and how the veteran community can become part of the solution.
Having just returned from the Republic of Fiji (where he was and is leading an international group of 52 attorneys in a review of proposed mineral and seabed mining legislation for that island nation), environmental attorney Thomas S. Mullikin is not your typical attorney. In fact, there’s nothing typical about Tom Mullikin.
A former U.S. Army officer who has been tapped to command the S.C. State Guard later this month, Mullikin – founder and pres. of the Mullikin Law Firm and Global Eco Adventures – is on a quest to become the first human to have climbed the world’s seven great summits and logged dives in the world’s five oceans. He has already climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro (Africa’s highest peak), Mt. Elbrus (Europe’s highest peak), Mt. Kosciuscko (Australia’s highest peak), Mt. Aconcagua (the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere), and summits across the North American continent. And he has recorded SCUBA dives in every ocean on earth. In each-and-every adventure, the issue that is foremost on his mind is the environment—why and how it is changing, and how best to preserve it.
We recently discussed global climate change and America’s dangerous dependency on foreign sources of energy with Mullikin. Both are vital issues says this environmental expert who points to a way out of this dependency and also argues that neither issue should ever be politicized.
QUESTION: You urge veterans to speak out in support of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of shale oil to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. Aside from the obvious (less dependency on Middle East oil), what are some of the other ways that increasing our domestic energy production would affect our military and national security?
THOMAS S. MULLIKIN: It is understandable for Americans to think first of the Middle East when we consider the negative consequences of depending on other nations for our energy needs. Decades of reliance on Middle Eastern nations, particularly the Persian Gulf States, have allowed these nations to become awash in American dollars – some of which ended up funding terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda and Hezbollah.
While enhanced energy security will allow us to begin to become less entangled in that part of the world, there are sure to be benefits in other difficult relationships across the globe. America has relied heavily on nations with volatile governments that are not responsive to their own people and work to thwart American efforts to promote democracy.
Our support for the governments of these nations through their state-owned energy companies is shrinking, courtesy of the shale energy boom in this country.
For example, we will become less beholden to nations such as Venezuela (a country that is currently in turmoil following the death of strongman Pres. Hugo Chavez in 2013) that have sought to oppose our efforts in the Western Hemisphere and even friendlier nations such as Nigeria that are beset with violence and terrorism (such as the kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls in that country by the Boko Haram group).
Simply said, developing our own resources will allow us to stop putting bullets in the guns of our enemies and lining the pockets of those who bankroll those who would do us harm.
Also, I think that the revival of American manufacturing is vital to our national security interests. Wars are different now than they were in generations past, but a robust manufacturing sector would allow the U.S. to be the “arsenal of democracy” as President Roosevelt dubbed this nation during World War II, if we ever found ourselves engaged in another global conflict as we did in the twentieth century.
QUESTION: Like climate change, the debate on fracking has become so politicized. Industry tells us one thing and environmentalists tell us the opposite, and it can be very difficult to tell what the truth is. How did you, an environmental lawyer and global expedition leader, come to the conclusion that fracking is beneficial?
Read the full interview at DayOnTheDay.com]