Poll shows vets back energy bill; cite national security

Four out of five veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan think the U.S. would be more secure if the nation were weaned off foreign oil, according to the results of a poll released Tuesday.

The study, conducted by Lake Research Partners in February, also found that 64 percent of the surveyed veterans believe U.S. dependence on foreign energy endangers the lives of our troops by helping funnel money to hostile forces in oil-producing regions.

The survey was commissioned by VoteVets.org, a group that has backed work in Congress to pass broad energy and climate change legislation. It comes as a group of senators try to finish writing a new version of the bill that promotes domestic oil and gas production and nuclear power as well as caps on greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and the chairman of VoteVets.org, said the survey confirms that "veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan know first-hand the destructive effect our dependence on oil has on our national security and on the battlefield."

Among the findings:

73 percent favor a "comprehensive clean energy and climate bill that invests in clean, renewable energy sources in America and limits carbon pollution." That cuts across all branches of the military and both political parties.

62 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans believe that if climate change legislation were to pass, the amount of oil the U.S. buys from hostile nations would be reduced.

56 percent say that would translate to less funding for and support that oil-producing countries provide to terrorists.

A plurality don't believe that the passage of climate change legislation would translate to fewer troops deployed in unstable oil-producing regions of the world. 47 percent believe a new climate change law would not affect troop deployment in those areas, compared to 43 percent who do.

Pollster Celinda Lake said the survey is unusual because it drills down to a relatively small portion of the U.S. population -- an "enormously expensive" process that requires different sampling techniques than used for more general surveys. The data has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent, and the sample included 45 percent self-identified Republicans, 25 percent independents and 20 percent Democrats.