Veterans: Renewable fuel law a national security issue

Source: By Carol Hunter, Des Moines Register • Posted: Friday, July 24, 2015

Three retired military officers made the case Wednesday that development and use of renewable fuels is a key component of national security.

Specifically, the officers argued that Congress should leave in place the current Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires that increasing amounts of alternative fuels be blended into the nation’s gasoline supply.

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed lowering the amount of ethanol and biodiesel that must be blended.

“The RFS is a military issue,” said Jon Soltz, chairman of, who served as a captain and major in Iraq. “Our message is simple: Don’t mess with the RFS.”

The officers, meeting with the editorial board of The Des Moines Register, said the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels threatens national security on a number of fronts.

And specifically the military is heavily reliant on fossil fuels, said Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, whose assignments included serving as commanding general charged with re-establishing Iraqi Security Forces in 2003-2004.

One of the Navy’s main missions is keeping open shipping lanes for oil and other products, they said. And terrorists who kill U.S. troops are profiting off of oil.

In addition, climate change will increasingly threaten to destabilize nations around the world, said Brig. Gen. Steven Anderson, who directed logistics in Iraq under U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus.

At a practical level, maintaining the long supply chains needed to supply outposts in Iraq and Afghanistan led to thousands of casualties, they said.

“I had a soldier killed delivering fuel,” Soltz said.

Anderson, who cited statistics that one out of 24 fuel supply convoys in Afghanistan yielded a casualty, said Petraeus was constantly “bugging me” to get trucks off the road, to save lives and allow troops to be redirected to their main mission.

Anderson, a conservative politically, said ethanol isn’t a perfect fuel but called it a needed bridge in developing alternatives. Maintaining troops in the field without long supply chains will require innovation in areas such as energy efficiency, solar technology, wind power and battery storage, the officers said., a progressive group, claims 400,000 members, including troops, veterans, military families and supporters.

The organization is pushing its message on the Renewable Fuel Standard now because the end of the public comment period on lowering the standard is next week, July 27. Soltz also said the group wants the issue of renewable fuels as a national security concern to be debated among presidential candidates in the Iowa caucuses. Iowa is also the nation’s largest ethanol producer.

Oil interests contend the Renewable Fuel Standard is an antiquated law that artificially props up use of biofuels, and that biofuels should compete in the market on their own merits.