Are electric cars a matter of national security? You bet, says Tim Goodrich, who spent three tours of duty in the Middle East, including Air Force service in Iraq and Afghanistan. His ride is a Nissan Leaf, which he bought in Los Angeles from super-salesman Paul Scott (who doubles as vice president of the Plug In America advocacy group).
Goodrich enlisted when he was just 18, and went into Afghanistan as an avionics technician servicing the AWACs planes that guide fighters and bombers. He was part of the response to 9/11, and also helped maintain Iraq’s no-fly zones. Today he’s a Sierra Club member, a graduate student at the University of Southern California, and a guy who's restless about our foreign policy priorities.
“Our foreign policy needs to evolve in order to provide smarter national security here at home," says Goodrich (on the right in this photo with his Leaf and Paul Scott). “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?”
An irony, of course, is that the military is investigating alternatives to that $400-a-gallon gasoline, because fuel convoys are great terrorist targets, and because EVs don’t have heat signatures that can be easily tracked. Battery power is one alternative, but so are hydrogen fuel cells, which offer greater range. Goodrich told me, “The military is making a big push for green energy, not only because it makes sense for the security of our troops on the ground, but also because it’s the right thing to do. The first priority is the troops, but the environmental benefits are a bonus, because the military has long been a big polluter.”
The obvious question to ask Goodrich is, “Are these conflicts wars for oil?” So I asked. “Absolutely, that’s part of it, though there are other interests at play in the geopolitical spectrum. The whole world is positioning itself to secure energy reserves, including what China is doing in Africa.”
Security issues aside, Goodrich loves his Leaf. “I’ve had it for a month, and I never want to drive a gas car again. It’s quieter and cleaner, in addition to being better for the environment.” Goodrich, who works as a business agent for a labor union in addition to finishing up school, spends a lot of time on the road, but he hasn’t run out of juice yet.
“Ninety percent of Americans drive less than 100 miles a day, and to me it just means doing a bit more planning before I set out,” he said. “I was recently concerned about the amount of driving I had to do, so I consulted the map on my Leaf iPhone app and found a station right near the UCS campus,” he said. “When I pulled up there, they were just dedicating the station, and I became the first customer.”
That’s logistics, baby! Military training comes in handy.