By USAF Maj. Gen William Hodgkins (ret.), USN Rear Adm. Don Loren (ret.), USN Rear Adm. William Leon Schachte, Jr. (ret.) and US Army Maj. Gen. Gary Wattnem (ret.)
The EPA’s recent proposal to moderate the Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) rollout may have been denounced by the “left-of-center veterans group” called VoteVets.org but we can assure you it has the full support of Vets4Energy -- and that our support is based on the best interests of the millions of men and women who have served in the military.
The comment by VoteVets founder Jon Soltz that proponents of the EPA decision to reduce the annual requirement for ethanol content in gasoline are “supporting killing our troops” offends us as retired military veterans and we are certain it’s offensive to those currently in uniform. It is also intellectually dishonest and is insulting to those of us that care about our nation’s energy policy.
Reducing our nation’s dependence on oil from unreliable and often hostile foreign sources, thereby decreasing the risk of our troops being put in harm’s way, is a worthy goal that our members and presumably all Americans embrace. The best way to reduce our dependence, however, is with an all-of-the above approach that encourages the rational development of all natural resources, from fossil fuels to renewables and other alternatives and being good stewards of the environment.
The RFS goals for reduced oil imports, lower greenhouse gas emissions, etc. have been met ten years ahead of schedule, but not because of the standards. No, the credit goes to new drilling technologies, increased use of natural gas, and reduced consumption of gasoline (the last attributable to the ongoing recession). But there are some groups that continue to push for higher ethanol standards without taking into account the unintended and dangerous consequences of that pursuit.
For instance, the higher standards have had several documented ill-effects on all Americans such as driving up gas prices, raising the cost of livestock feed, and increasing the hard-pressed American consumer’s total at the supermarket for beef, pork, poultry and corn products. They also jeopardize military effectiveness across all branches of the military. They will render hundreds of thousands of internal combustion engines used by our armed forces in the field ill-suited to burn the fuel mandated by the very people our soldiers and sailors swore an oath to protect.
The EPA, responding to pressure from many consumer, industry, and national security groups decided to rescind its proposal because it realizes that if implemented it will impact economic and national security issues by increasing the potential for widespread engine damage from higher ethanol-content blends, and discourage the conversion of ecologically sensitive land into farm acreage.
Within a few years, the U.S. will be on the cusp of being the world leader in oil production thanks to modern and safe hydraulic fracturing and horizontal oil production technologies. And when the president decides to listen to Congress, industry, labor, and the majority of Americans and approves the Keystone XL Pipeline, we’ll have a stable energy supply from a reliable partner, Canada, that will help ensure our country is energy secure.
We’ll leave the name-calling and irrational arguments to others. We support the EPA’s proposal as a good first step toward a permanent fix to the RFS mandate.
The authors are members of Vets4Energy, a campaign organized by the American Petroleum Institute, which opposes the RFS.