Energy bill could cut Iran’s profits by up to $100 million a day, vets say

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$93,193,772.94 and counting.

That’s nearly a day’s worth of oil profits for Iran, says Operation Free, a group of U.S. military veterans and national security organizations that delivered a digital counter to Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, on Tuesday. The group says the counter began tallying Iran’s second-by-second oil profits Monday morning and will continue to do so as a symbol of the cost of U.S. dependence on foreign oil.

“This counter was started yesterday at 11:30 [a.m.],” said Army veteran Jonathan Powers, chief operating officer of Operation Free. “We’re almost to our first $100 million that we could be depriving Iran.”

According to economic analyses from the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, capping carbon emissions would cost Iran up to $100 million a day in oil profits.

“There’s no greater threat to our national security than our dependence on oil,” Marine veteran and Operation Free member Matt Victoriano told Kerry when the group delivered the counter to the senator’s office.

Victoriano served as a Marine Corps sniper in Iraq in 2003-2004.

“I found myself not taking out the terrorists,” he said, “not securing Iraq, but protecting oil. I conducted mission after mission protecting supply routes so that oil could reach our forward operating bases.”

U.S. Army veteran Robin Eckstein served in Iraq in 2003, driving convoys that hauled fuel and water to forward operating bases.

“It was a roll of the dice as far as what I was going to encounter [each] day,” she said. “Sniper fire, IEDs [improvised explosive devices], ambushes, you never knew.”

She became involved with Operation Free upon her return to the U.S. “Our dependence on one source of energy makes us completely vulnerable here in the United States,” she said.

By the time Victoriano and Eckstein finished speaking, the counter had climbed to $93,404,197.53.

“This clock is dramatic,” Kerry said. “You can see it moving rapidly. That’s what’s at stake in this debate and we hope to get to this debate as soon as possible.”

Although Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, announced Saturday that he would no longer support the clean energy bill, Kerry said that the bill was being moved forward with Graham’s consent. Kerry said he wouldn’t comment on whether he would consider rolling out the bill without Graham’s consent.

“Nobody’s pretending this is an overnight solution,” Kerry said. “We’ve been talking about this for 35 years. The legislation that we hope to be able to bring before the Senate is the first real step toward energy independence that we have to take as a nation.”

By the meeting’s end, the climber had reached $93,478,216.23.

“We hope this [counter] will act as a reminder to other members here in the Senate to let them know that America needs clean energy legislation and America needs it now,” Powers said. “It’s for our own security.”