Rep. Kahn on alternative fuels

A letter to the editor from Rolf E. Westgard in the Sept. 15 Daily attacks the idea of using ethanol as a domestic source of fuel for the military. However, a benefit of President Barack ObamaâÄôs proposal is that the plants will make cellulosic ethanol instead of ethanol from corn.

The author inveighs against the cost, saying that conventional fuel is available from U.S. refineries. This ignores the fact that more than 40 percent of the fuel we use is imported. And the price of this imported fuel must also include the cost of the wars we must wage (like the war in Iraq) to secure our supply.

At the time this letter appeared, I was attending a meeting of a group called the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. One of the most interesting talks came from a retired Naval officer, a member of the Center for Naval Analysis. His point was that AmericaâÄôs energy dependence is a national security issue and that climate change is a serious threat to our national security, particularly our dependence on oil.

Among other negatives, this dependence undermines economic stability, cripples foreign policy, jeopardizes military missions and poses a risk to the environment.

CNA makes the point that the Department of Defense can contribute to national solutions as a technological innovator and early adopter. ObamaâÄôs cellulosic ethanol proposal is a step in this direction.