By Frankie Sturm, Truman National Security Project - 06/24/08 05:24 PM EDT
The recent storms that have inundated the Midwest are of tragic proportions. Because foul weather has flooded acres of rich cropland, this act of nature could easily become a pretext for biofuel opponents to take aim at the recently passed Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), blaming it for an impending increase in food prices.
Allowing biofuel’s skeptics in Congress, many of whom have close ties to the oil industry, to use such events to discredit newly created biofuel programs would be a grave mistake. Biofuel opponents on Capitol Hill have already seized upon worldwide food riots as a bludgeon to use against alternative energy.
Allowing them to use the floods as an excuse to eliminate biofuels and drill for oil in Alaska would only deepen our dependence on all sources of oil, both foreign and domestic.
Ending our oil addiction is not only crucial to our national security, but is a key cause of skyrocketing food prices. It is no coincidence that oil prices and food prices are both increasing this summer. Oil is present at every step of the way in food production, from fueling tractors and processing grain, to packaging and shipping final products. These factors have a greater impact on the retail price of food than the cost of grain itself. Continuing our reliance on oil by dropping alternative energy will only heighten the price spike.
Other significant factors for food price increases are: droughts in major grain-producing countries around the world; trade restrictions by major grain-producing nations like Russia, China and India; and increased demand from developing countries like China and India for calorie-rich food.
Instead of blaming biofuels, the United States should encourage the elimination of trade restrictions and take steps to reduce our dependence on oil through the development of alternative fuels like cellulosic ethanol, which will help curtail our oil addiction and stabilize food prices.
Political leaders who don’t prioritize the need to move away from oil aren’t just weak on protecting the environment — they are weak on protecting America. It’s a simple fact: a friend of Big Oil is no friend of national security. To keep America safe and secure, we cannot continue buying the oil that fuels terror, tyrants and food riots. In order to stave off this situation, we must resist the push to roll back the RFS before it has even begun. Instead, we ought to act where the potential for success is greatest: the reduction of trade restrictions and the development of oil-free alternative energy.
Beardless bicyclists: Obama and Nixon
From Wes Pedersen
When Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and his wife Michelle notched up their image-polishing campaign by towing their daughters around Chicago by bike for photo ops, they may have been borrowing from Dick and Pat Nixon’s public relations guidebook.
As a candidate for vice president under Dwight Eisenhower, Nixon and his wife used their two daughters to good advantage one spring day in Washington. With the young girls on handlebars, the family rode by the Reflecting Pool, pausing for photographs along the way. I used one photo in a book I prepared later when Nixon was campaigning for president. The book was to be distributed overseas by the United States Information Agency if he were elected.
To be certain I was not using any photos he might find objectionable, I carted all of the graphics up to New York for Nixon’s pre-publication review at his campaign headquarters in the Pierre hotel. He OK’d everything except the bike shot. The kids and Pat were OK, but he had detected a faint shadow of beard surrounding his presidential smile. Either the photo went, or the beard went. I had it airbrushed out, of course.
Chevy Chase, Md.