Rep. Kahn in defense of cellulosic ethanol

Rolf Westgard, in his letter in the Oct. 3 Minnesota Daily, âÄúCellulosic ethanol for the military still not feasible,âÄù neglected to counter the arguments of my original letter, âÄúRep. Kahn on alternative fuels,âÄù in the Sept. 29 issue of the Daily.

Despite WestgardâÄôs claim that all our jet fuel could come from North American refineries âÄî modified from his original claim of U.S. refineries âÄî 40 percent of U.S. oil is currently imported.

I donâÄôt disagree with his partial analysis of the causes of the war in Iraq, but he still ignores the continuing underlying national interest in a cheap oil supply from the Middle East.

Westgard also ignores that the Department of DefenseâÄôs support of research in technological subjects will contribute to national security as an early adopter of a technological innovation. No one should expect early alternative energy efforts to be self-supporting, which is why we need entities like the Pentagon to step in.

For example, the Pentagon founded the âÄúDefense Advanced Research Projects Agency,âÄù in 1958 as a response to the Soviet Sputnik launching because the U.S. desired to catch up with Russian space technology. The civilian offshoot of this project was the Internet.

I did not invent the concern about our dependence on oil. The Center for Naval Analysis, a research organization providing analysis and solutions for government leaders, did. A major statement from CNA says, âÄúU.S. oil dependence undermines national security.âÄù We need to break this dependence, and the Pentagon could play the role of testing ground for alternative fuels.