Why Switching to Electric Vehicles Improves National Security, the Environment, and Our Economy

Tim Goodrich, right, stands next to his new electric car with founding member of Plug in America, Paul Scott | Photo via Tim Goodrich

Guest commentator Tim Goodrich is a veteran who deployed to the Middle East in support of the Global War on Terrorism. He currently attends graduate school at the University of Southern California and is a Sierra Club member and Partner at the Truman National Security Project.

I just bought a new car and will never need to buy gasoline again. The reason I have been able to happily drive past increasingly expensive gas stations isn't because I haven't been driving the car, it's because the car I bought runs entirely on electricity.

My decision to purchase an electric car was driven by a variety of reasons, but the simplest reason was this: The cost of filling up with gas is just too much. I'm not just writing about the price we're paying at the pump; I am also referring to the cost to our future generations, our national security, and our economy. As a veteran, I have seen the toll these costs take and I am doing what I can to stop contributing to the problem.

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At the age of 18, I enlisted in the active duty Air Force and went on to deploy three times to the Middle East, supporting the no fly zones over Iraq, the initial response to Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, and the pre-war bombing of Iraq. My unit also supported homeland defense operations and after my honorable discharge, I traveled to Baghdad as part of a fact finding delegation.

Through these experiences, I came to see that our foreign policy needs to evolve in order to provide smarter national security here at home. After all, how much sense does it make to spend $400 per gallon getting gas to our service members in remote regions of Afghanistan? How much sense does it make to send money to countries that don't like us, don't share our values, and sometimes find ways to get that money into the hands of terrorist organizations? The Rand Corporation found that US armed forces spend up to $83 billion annually protecting vulnerable infrastructure and patrolling oil transit routes. US Navy Secretary Roy Mabus recently said, "The Army did a study and found that out of every 24 fuel convoys we use [in Afghanistan], a soldier or marine is killed or wounded guarding that convoy. That's a high price to pay for fuel."

For these reasons, our military is currently researching and using alternative energy technologies in the field. If our military as a whole sees the importance of getting off fossil fuels, and the lives of our service members depend on it, I want to support that effort.

As a child, growing up in a small suburb of Buffalo, NY, I was introduced to environmental technology at an early age when my parents installed a passive solar heating system on our house. I thought it was amazing that, despite the sub-zero temperatures outside, we could get free heat from the sun distributed throughout the house. All the kids from school who came to see it on a field trip thought so too. Now that I'm older and see the importance of using technology in a way that will allow us to leave the earth in better condition than when we found it.

My current home, Los Angeles, has the second smoggiest air in the country. Most Americans drive less than 40 miles per day, and most new electric car models go up to 100 miles before having to recharge. Just think of how much cleaner our air would be if even a third of the population purchased an electric car, which studies have shown are 35 to 60% cleaner than traditional vehicles -even on today's electricity grid. In future years, as we shift to an energy portfolio containing more renewable resources like solar and wind, driving will actually become greener.

America's addiction to oil is as damaging to our economy as it is to our environment. Every year, we send at least $250 billion to overseas countries because the cars we drive have an insatiable thirst for oil. In other words, about half of our trade deficit is due to imported crude petroleum. This trade deficit has contributed to circumstances that created one of the worst economic downturns in this country since the Great Depression. Wouldn't it be great to save money by fueling our vehicles with electricity rather than gas and also have that money stay in our country where it can be reinvested in our economy?

If you're like me and want to breathe cleaner air, support our service members and national security, and improve our economy, consider making the switch to an electric car. Besides being patriotic, getting thumbs up at red lights all over town and saving a ton of money by driving past the pump feels pretty good.

About the Author

Tim Goodrich is a veteran who deployed to the Middle East in support of the Global War on Terrorism. He is currently pursuing his Masters of Public Administration at the University of Southern California and is a Sierra Club membe...


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I commend Tim Goodrich for cutting the fossil fuel lines and driving an all electric Nissan Leaf. Since I live in Torrance too I also appreciate the lack of greenhouse gas emissions his car is producing. Thanks for setting such a strong example for the rest of us, Tim! Wishing you many miles of clean EV driving!


Good work, Tim. I bought an electric car a couple of years ago for the same reasons. Petroleum has so many problems that I was willing to suffer with an inferior car to avoid burning it anymore.

It took me about a week to realize I wasn't suffering. Driving an EV is *better*. Easier to fuel, smoother and quieter, less maintenance...in fact my wife started driving it, and we started fighting over who "got" to drive the EV. So we bought a second one, and now we're both happy.



If the Electricity you use, to fill the batteries in the electric car are from dirty coal, Fuel Oil or even Natural Gas fired, you are still adding to greenhouse gases and depleating a fosile fuel reserve. If you live in California or anywhere the sun shines more than 200 days a year, Solar panels on you roof or in your back yard used as a patio cover, could produce enough Electricity for your home and your car. An electric car can tavel 3 miles on one Kilo Watt Hour. (1,000 watts produced over a one hour period) If your home had a 6,000 watt Photo Voltic system, over a 7 hour sunight overhead day you could produce 42 KWHr. 24 Kwhr for your home and 18 kwhr or 54 miles for your electric car for that day. over 30 days you could power your home with 720 Kilo Watt hours and drive your car 1620 Miles with 540 Kilo Watt Hours. You could laugh and say; " I have the longest extention cord in the world...it runs 93 million miles to the Sun" ;) Both the Cars and the Solar Panels get Government Tax Credits and the Panels make a great investment towards your future Energy bills.


Going Green, saving environment, using electric cars has been the most useless topic i have been listening since last couple of years. It appears as the electric car manufacturers are conspiracy to depreciate the value of other cars and companies that cannot come up with such technology easily. Even electric and hybrid cars influence environment negatively. So what's the point in promoting them until the manufacturers come up with perfectly and potentially savior electric cars for environment?