Op-ed: Renewable Fuel Standard is a veterans issue, too

 ·  Jon Soltz, VoteVets.org, Red Oak Express

Every day, America spends about $1 billion on foreign oil – and that doesn’t even count the human and financial cost to our military as we defend oil routes and put our troops in harms’ way around the world. 

And all too often, the terrorist organizations targeting our troops overseas and our citizens at home are funded by the oil profits of our enemies.  The more America consumes, the more we drive up the global price all countries must pay for oil, and the more well-funded our enemies become.  As former CIA Director James Woolsey noted, we are paying for both sides of the war on terrorism. 

Homegrown, renewable fuels like the ethanol produced in Iowa and elsewhere in the Midwest, can help end the cycle of sending domestic resources to those that may use it to harm our troops and allies.  Unfortunately, the security – both national security and job security –  renewable fuels help supply is now in grave danger.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to reduce the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) – effectively requiring less renewable fuel and more oil based fuel to be sold at the pump.  This would represent a huge defeat for consumers and our national security, but it is a huge win for the oil companies that made $120 billion in profits in 2012.  In fact, after the proposal was announced, the “Big Five” oil companies saw their stock prices soar – giving them a $23 billion windfall in a single day.  Think consumers will benefit from that?  Think again.

Recently the veterans group we represent, VoteVets.org, launched an ad in Iowa in support of the RFS. As veterans ourselves, we know this message will resonate with others who will pay the price if the EPA gives in to Big Oil and goes forward with this ill-advised proposal.   And, though one of us lives in east Kansas, and the other in Virginia, the similarities between our states, and Iowa, is strikingly similar.

Like Kansas and Virginia, Iowa has seen many deployments to the Middle East in recent years. It is a state that has a high percentage of its national guard who has been deployed. The many families and communities that have seen their sons and daughters deployed feel great pride in this fact, and with good cause. We owe it to these brave Iowans to ensure that we are making wise decisions that will limit the need for future deployments and reduce the dangers they face when we do send them into action. 

Cutting renewable fuels now does not make sense. We have seen the success of renewable fuels since the RFS was introduced. They reduce carbon emissions, limit the amount of oil coming from overseas, and add billions to local economies.  By limiting oil prices and profits, they strengthen America at home while weakening our enemies.

 Ethanol is a cleaner alternative to oil and produces jobs for our neighbors. Many of these jobs are being filled by our veterans when they return home. According to the Iowa Corn Growers, ethanol is responsible for more than 55,000 jobs in Iowa alone. In all, 96 percent of those who work in the ethanol industry have health insurance, and 92 percent have a retirement plan.   And, it hasn’t gone unnoticed that of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates, six are among the top 10 ethanol-producing states.

When President Barack Obama won the Iowa caucuses in 2008, he said “I’ll be a president who harnesses the ingenuity of farmers and scientists and entrepreneurs to free this nation from the tyranny of oil once and for all.” Cutting the RFS will not lead us closer to what the President promised the many veterans and farmers who supported him in Iowa.  Iowa is the state that sent the President to the White House, and this is a state that strongly supports renewable fuels.

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