Veterans Tour South Carolina Calling for Action on Climate Change

November 2, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - Thursday, October 22, 2009


CONTACT:  Senator John Courson  (803) 212-6250 
                    Representative James Smith (803) 933-9800   
                    Mayor Bob Coble  (803) 315-4123


***Veterans Tour South Carolina Calling for Action on Climate Change***
Military veterans on a 21-state bus tour stopped in Columbia and Greenville on Thursday to talk to citizens and local community leaders about the dangers of climate change and its threat to national security.  In Columbia they were joined by Mayor Bob Coble and former and current military officers, including State Senator John Courson (R-Lexington) and State Representative James Smith (D-Richmond).

The tour is sponsored by Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security groups working together to raise public awareness about national security threats posed by climate change and the importance of building a clean energy economy that is not tied to fossil fuels.

Retired Marine officer and State Senator John Courson welcomed the veterans.  A train enthusiast, Senator Courson has traveled on several occasions by rail to Churchill in northern Manitoba where he has observed the impacts of climate change first hand.  Stated Courson, "I have a 13-year-old son.  I hope that one day he considers joining the Marine Corps.  But I don't want him involved in fighting oil wars in the Middle East."

State Representative James Smith, who in 2007 served in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, also welcomed the veterans:  "We are all in this together.  This is an effort that knows no party.  We need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make our country safer."

Former Staff Sargent Ed May, who is traveling on the bus tour, noted, "I was born in Charleston.  When I served in the Gulf War, I knew that as long as we were dependent on foreign oil, we would be there.  For thirty years we've talked about energy independence.  We need to stop talking and do something." 

In conjunction with the tour, the veterans group is buying radio ads in Columbia and Greenville featuring local veterans. I don't want to have to deal with oil period, said Chuck Tyler, a veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Enduring Freedom. "As a threat multiplier, it doesn't even have to come from overseas. If you put it in your car, if you burn it, it contributes to carbon's something that we don't want to deal with."

Operation Free and its members support a clean energy plan that cuts carbon pollution, develops clean energy incentives, and puts America in control of its energy future.  For more information about the tour, visit the Operation Free Veterans for American Power Bus Tour website at
WHO:    U.S. Army veterans and local citizens
WHAT:    Press conference discussing climate change and national security
WHEN:   Thursday, October 22, 2009, 4:00 p.m.
WHERE:  American Legion Headquarters, Columbia SC
                Veterans' Memorial, Cleveland Park, Greenville, SC



Conservation Voters of South Carolina
701 Whaley Street, Suite 207
Columbia, SC 29201


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