Retired generals: Protect renewable fuel standard

Quad City Times   ·   Link to Article

DES MOINES — Using corn-infused gasoline helps strengthen the country’s national security, a trio of retired U.S. generals said Wednesday.

Gen. Wesley Clark, Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton and Brig. Gen. Steven Anderson spoke to reporters Wednesday in Des Moines to express their support for the Renewable Fuel Standard, a federal mandate that the nation’s fuel supply contain a certain percentage of corn-based ethanol.

The generals appeared on behalf of VoteVets.org, a national advocacy group for veterans issues.

Clark said the nation must do what it can to reduce its dependency on foreign oil.

“For that, there’s nothing better than the Renewable Fuel Standard. It is the smartest, best energy strategy that America has ever devised,” said Clark, a four-star U.S. Army general and NATO Supreme Allied Commander who ran for president as a Democrat in 2004. “It was passed under the administration of President George W. Bush. It had bipartisan support in the United States Congress. And now the implementation, the follow-through is being questioned. By who? By people whose economic interests want us to remain addicted to importing foreign oil.”

The federal Environmental Protection Agency may reduce the amount of ethanol required in the nation’s fuel supply.

That would be a mistake with national security implications, the three generals said Wednesday. They encouraged Iowans to express to the federal government their support for the standard and to press presidential candidates visiting the first-in-the-nation caucus state to do the same.

“Unfettered access to energy is a vital national interest, regardless of the country,” said Eaton, a U.S. Army general who trained Iraqi troops during the war in Iraq.

The less the U.S. relies on foreign oil, the less the country will have to involve itself in foreign entanglements involving oil-rich countries, the generals said.

“My experiences in Iraq have taught me that our addiction to oil is putting our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines at tremendous risk overseas,” said Anderson, who served for 31 years in the U.S. Army. “While I was a senior logistics officer working for (Gen. David) Petraeus in 2006 and 2007, I was bringing upwards of 400 fuel trucks a day to sustain our oil addiction, because we didn’t have any other systems other than carbon-based systems. Everything ran off of oil. Everything ran off the generators. Everything was carbon-based.”

Anderson said that reliance on oil put “incredible pressure” on the U.S. military in combat zones and put American troops at risk. He said approximately 1,200 American troops died moving fuel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Opponents of the fuel standard argue the federal government mandate intrudes upon the free market.

“Unfortunately, most of my Republican counterparts don’t understand that it’s not about getting cheaper oil or other sources of oil, it’s about weaning the addiction to oil,” Anderson said.

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