Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard poses with an electric Ford Focus in December. Indianapolis plans to replace its entire fleet with electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2025. (Rich Callahan / Associated Press)

By Greg Ballard

Two hundred and forty years ago, our founding fathers envisioned a nation free of control by a distant ruler. Today, we will wave our flag, wearing the red, white, and blue proudly in honor of the day they declared independence.

While the United States of America is the most powerful nation in the world, many of our young men and women in uniform will argue that we are still not free of control by a distant ruler. The modern oppressor we face today is oil.

Modernization throughout the twentieth century made oil vital to the American way of life. But our demand for oil and need to protect the global oil market has cost us more than just money. We have prioritized our “need” for oil at the expense of the lives of our service members.

Despite known ties between the global oil market and terrorism, we continue to rely on oil to fuel our transportation industry, inadvertently funding our enemies and putting the lives of our men and women in uniform in harm’s way. Transportation remains one of the largest uses of oil globally, with oil powering 90 percent of the industry. I, along with a consensus of senior military and national security experts, believe that these points qualify global reliance on oil as a serious threat to our national security.

This Fourth of July, we need to lead the world’s declaration of energy independence from oil, just as our founding fathers courageously led America to independence from the British.

As a part of the midterm review of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and regulations, a technical assessment report will be released in the coming days on the progress of the 2025 target of 54.5 mpg. Domestically, these standards are an immediate step in the right direction. The farther our vehicles at home travel on each gallon of gas, the less money ends up in the hands of our enemies.

While these standards are great steps to reduce our reliance on oil, we must acknowledge that our commitment to ultimately eliminate oil usage in the United States will not alone eliminate the demands of the global oil market. Unless the rest of the global community helps to reduce the world’s demand for oil, the U.S military will be forced to continue sending troops to protect dangerous chokeholds in order to preserve the global economy.

Looking to the future, we need to adopt policies that go beyond making vehicles more efficient by eliminating the demand for oil in transportation altogether. During my time as the 48th Mayor of Indianapolis, I learned that the reality of implementing new transportation technologies, such as electric vehicles, is well within our grasp. Developing these technologies won’t just lead the world towards a better energy future — it will strengthen our economy and our country with in-demand exports.

If we lead by example with better standards and show the world that it is possible to fuel transportation without oil, then one day the men and women who currently serve abroad will instead be able to celebrate future independence days at home with their families.

Greg Ballard is the former mayor of Indianapolis and a United States Marine Corps Veteran for Operation Free.

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