Retired Gen. Wesley Clark spent 38 years in the Army protecting America. Today, Clark is working to reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil.

Clark is co-chairman of Growth Energy, an organization that represents the producers and supporters of ethanol. A 2004 Democratic Presidential candidate, Clark served as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and led NATO forces during Operation Allied Force in Kosovo.

“Big oil has a lot of big money. We don’t have that kind of money in the ethanol movement, but we’ve got to make sure our voices are heard,” said Clark to a gathering of Patriot Renewable Fuels shareholders.

Patriot Renewable Fuels LLC owns and operates a 100-million gallon per year ethanol producing facility in Annawan.

The ethanol plant opened in 2008 and is a “grassroots organization.”

“Most of our members live within a 100-mile radius of Annawan,” said Gene Griffith, co-founder and president of Patriot.

The grassroots approach, said Clark, is common throughout the ethanol industry.
“This is a bottoms up movement,” he said. “We’re America’s future, today.”

Born in Chicago but raised in Arkansas, Clark said he grew up in the Cold War era.
“The Soviet Union said they would bury us, and we took that as a threat. The people of my generation felt we were in mortal peril,” explained Clark.

Facing the Cold War gave America’s politicians and military leaders a focus, said the general.

“When we won the Cold War, we lost our strategy as a nation,” he said.
Yet what followed the Soviet Union’s collapse in the 1990s and 2000s was a “shining decade” for America, he said.

“We were the power of the 21st century. There were no challengers in sight as far as the eye could see ... but two economic downturns later, we just finished one war and we’re trying to finish another and there is a challenger on the horizon — China,” said Clark. “The Chinese have more people in their middle class than we have in the entire country. China believes its day has arrived.

“When you look at the U.S. today, you see no jobs, big deficits, China and national security issues. The future doesn’t look good. What are we going to do about it?” he asked.

“Our real problem is we must have real economic growth,” said Clark, who believes the solution can be found in ethanol.

“We spend $300 billion importing liquid fuels every year. Venezuela, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Kuwait and Canada are all countries living off our economy and our money,” he said. “It’s our money, and it’s been flowing out into the world for 40 years. We’ve never gotten a grip on our energy situation.”
Ethanol is a renewable resource (“The oil industry depletes a little more each year,” said Clark) that can keep money in the United States.

“To deal with the deficit, restore jobs and stand on our own two feet, we need energy independence. We can do it,” he emphasized.

Though ethanol has seen a ten-fold increase in production in the last decade, Clark said the industry struggles to get its product to market.

“We’re up against the biggest, wealthiest, most powerful industry in the world — big oil. They dominate the U.S. economy and geostrategy,” said Clark. “The energy world is a tough market. It’s not open to new ideas.”

The solution, said Clark, is for individuals and businesses to demand ethanol options.

“We can’t drill our way out of our problems. We can drive down the cost of gasoline by using ethanol,” he said.

“Ethanol is greener than gasoline and has 60 percent less carbon intensity. It doesn’t pollute beaches; countries don’t go to war over it and it’s our fuel. We’re making it. Every barrel of ethanol produced is a barrel of oil we’re not importing,” explained Clark.

The technology behind producing ethanol is “all-American” he said. “It’s high-tech stuff and every year we get better and better at it.

“I believe we made a historic, tragic blunder by relying on foreign oil imports. Ethanol is on the front line of securing our national commitment to energy independence,” he said.

Clark told the ethanol supporters at the meeting, “Let’s make the future happen and let’s start now. The ethanol industry is one of the salvations of America.”

source: starcourier

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