As a veteran, I’ve witnessed fellow servicemen and servicewomen risk life and limb over oil interests in hostile regions, all so we can feed our dependence on foreign oil. That’s one of the many reasons why Congress passed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) into law in 2005. Our leaders saw American-grown renewable fuel as a way to cut our dependence on foreign oil and bolster our energy and national security. They recognized that it’s senseless to keep putting Americans in harm’s way when we are producing renewable fuel right here at home. Biofuels are crucial to our national security, and since the RFS was enacted, our dependence on foreign oil has decreased by more than 55 percent. Biofuels are also a major contributor to job growth in America, creating more than 852,000 annually.
Lowering the renewable volume requirements under the RFS, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed several months ago, would be disastrous for our country’s energy independence and security. With ongoing instability in the Middle East and so much at stake, continuing to depend on foreign oil is not an option. The RFS is the most successful energy policy in the U.S., and producing secure renewable fuel, like ethanol, in our country is one of our most effective tools at breaking our addiction to foreign oil. But now it’s being attacked by people who only stand to gain from our foreign fossil fuel dependence: the oil industry.
The oil industry’s advocacy for continued dependence on imports from hostile foreign regions cannot be allowed to sway our nation’s energy policy. According to Brigadier General Steven Anderson, there have been 1,200 casualties among American soldiers transporting fuel in Afghanistan and Iraq. We can and must do our part to allow access to and production of homegrown biofuels to lessen our reliance on foreign oil.
America’s military has recognized that and invested in advanced biofuels to increase its diversity of energy. As the largest consumer of energy in the nation, the Department of Defense has used renewable fuel to insulate itself against price shocks in the rigged global oil market. America cannot control the price and global production of oil, but we can control the fuel we grow right here at home.
Increasingly, climate security is also playing a role in global stability. As climate change contributes to extreme weather events, we will only see further destabilization throughout the world. So it’s more important than ever that we curb our carbon emissions by diversifying our fuel supply and using increasing amounts of renewable fuel produced in America. After all, the advanced biofuels we’re producing right here at home are the cleanest motor fuels in the world.
When oil and gas production and pollution are increasingly fouling our land and water and threatening the world’s climate, we need a strong RFS to promote the production of secure energy. We have a choice between dirty oil from volatile regions of the world and homegrown renewable fuel made by America’s farmers and rural communities. We should be finding ways to cut, not increase, our use of oil, despite what the oil industry and its cronies want.
President Obama has said that, “The only way for America’s energy supply to be truly secure is by permanently reducing our dependence on oil.” We have the technology and know-how to make that happen. But we need the Administration to stop standing in the way of this progress. We can ensure our energy security and our national security by taking steps now to cut dependence on foreign energy and develop the resources in our own country.
The RFS is imperative to our national security, and we can’t let oil companies dictate the safety of our men and women in uniform. If enacted as EPA has initially proposed, the current rule would undermine efforts to break from oil and attempts to move forward with advanced biofuels. We have a solution to our dangerous oil addiction, and we can’t afford to turn back now.
Soltz is an Iraq war veteran and co-founder and chair of VoteVets.org.