What is in this article?:
- Biofuels essential to long-term U.S. national security
- Costs of global oil
- Retired U.S. Navy Vice-Admiral Dennis McGinn urges the continued expansion of the biofuels industry to enhance U.S. national security and help ward off threats from petroleum-exporting countries with opposing political views to the U.S.
- Biofuel expansion is about the advancement of many biofuels – not just ethanol, algae-based fuels, or biodiesel.
- Thousands of U.S. men and women in uniform deployed around the world operate military equipment worth hundreds of billions of dollars to help ensure the free flow of oil around the world.
Costs of global oil
The costs and risks to “pull oil” from the deepest parts of the Gulf of Mexico and other deep water areas are high. McGinn says no guarantee exists that the oil extraction and lifting processes will not cause future environmental spills.
McGinn says these threats and others jeopardize U.S. national security. “If we doubled the production of domestic oil we are still subject to the demands of the global economy,” McGinn said.
He pointed to rapid population growth worldwide, especially in India and China, where larger populations of people demand more energy. The global population now stands at 7 billion people and could top 9 billion by 2050. Global oil demand will increase global competition for existing petroleum supplies.
McGinn also discussed the human and financial costs to maintain the flow of global oil supplies without interruption. He pointed to the men and women in the U.S. military who place their lives in harm’s way to protect oil transportation routes.
“Militarily, we have seen this manifest itself in Iraq and Afghanistan with escorts of convoys, especially fuel convoys, as the single largest cause of killed and wounded young men and women in uniform.”
Thousands of U.S. men and women in uniform deployed around the world operate military equipment worth hundreds of billions of dollars to help ensure the free flow of oil — “the lifeblood of the world economy.”
McGinn addressed criticism that the private sector should develop the biofuel industry without government involvement. An example shared by the vice-admiral is a Department of Defense initiative partnering the USDA and the Department of Energy in tests and the scale up of biofuels.
“There is a key role that government has to play,” McGinn said.
Government should have a role in building industries, the naval leader says. Nine million people in (our) country benefit from the availability of affordable electricity due to the government-created Tennessee Valley Authority.
He also pointed to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Apollo space program (1969-1972) conceived by President Dwight D. Eisenhower which led to economic and social benefits created by spinoff technology.
“Going forward, we need the same type of approach, the right kind of partnership between and the private sector and other groups, to bring us the options for more available, less expensive, and more viable biofuels of every sort,” McGinn concluded.