Hundreds of thousands of people are waiting for the US Environmental Protection Agency to issue its final ruling on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). Over 110,000 signatures were collected by the group VoteVets.org (often politically active on energy issues), which delivered its petition with Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. Over 35,000 of those signatures were from veterans and military family members.

VoteVets.org is a veteran group that believes that the US needs more homegrown energy, not dependence on foreign oil. Congressman Braley represents the corn-growing, ethanol-producing state of Iowa, where over 1,000 of these signatures were collected. They've asked the EPA to protect the RFS and not give in to Big Oil, and recently met with EPA senior staff members to voice their concerns.

"The RFS improves our economy and contributes to our energy independence-and the EPA needs to understand that Americans don't support their misguided attempt to alter a law that's working so well," said Braley in the press release available below.

For Jon Soltz, VoteVets.org chairman and an Iraq war veteran, the issue is clear cut – standing up to Big Oil is the same as standing up for US troops. Soltz said that if we're less dependent on oil by using more biofuels, oil prices will decline. And our enemies (his word) like to see high oil prices so they can use petroleum industry profits against US troops. Ethanol is a key part of ensuring that "America's dependence on oil is decreased," according to Soltz. One oil-rich country that the veterans group would like to see blocked is Iran; while the US hasn't gone directly to war with Iran, there's a reference in the press release to a 2007 incident where Iran produced and shipped Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) to Iraqi insurgents, who used them to target US troops.
VETERANS JOINED BY REP. BRUCE BRALEY IN DELIVERING OVER 100,000 PETITION SIGNATURES TO EPA, CALLING ON IT TO STAND UP TO BIG OIL AND PROTECT OUR TROOPS BY KEEPING THE RENEWABLE FUEL STANDARD STRONG

WASHINGTON, DC – The largest progressive group of veterans in America, VoteVets.org, today was joined by Congressman Bruce Braley in delivering over 110,000 petition signatures (including over 1000 signatures from Iowans) to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, calling on the agency to protect the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The EPA comment period on the issue is coming to a close, and the agency is expected to announce a decision soon on the future of the RFS. The petition was delivered in a meeting with EPA Senior Staff.

"The 110,000 people that voiced their opinion on the critical importance of the Renewable Fuel Standard deserve to be heard," Braley said. "The RFS improves our economy and contributes to our energy independence-and the EPA needs to understand that Americans don't support their misguided attempt to alter a law that's working so well."

"This issue is clear cut," said Jon Soltz, Iraq War Veteran, and Chairman of VoteVets.org. "The less dependent on oil we are, the lower the prices become worldwide. Our enemies often benefit from the rising prices of oil – even those we do not buy oil from – and use those dollars against us and our troops. This is an issue of protecting our men and women in uniform, and the EPA must do its part to ensure America's dependence on oil is decreased, not increased. Ethanol is a key part of making that happen. Now is the time for the EPA to stand up to big oil, and stand up for our troops."

Of the 112,812 signatures collected, over 35,000 were from veterans and military family members. More than 1,060 comments were from Iowans, including over 320 Iowa veterans and military family members.

The facts back up those who signed the petition. Although the United States often does not directly buy oil from hostile nations, like Iran, America's dependence on oil drives up demand, and prices of oil on the world market, which benefits all oil-rich nations. Those oil dollars allowed Iran, for instance, to produce and ship Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFPs) to Iraqi insurgents, who used them to target our troops.1

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates for every one billion gallons of ethanol produced, 10,000 to 20,000 jobs are added to our domestic economy.2 According to the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the ethanol Industry supports around 55,000 jobs in Iowa, and accounts for $5.4 billion of Iowa's GDP.3 Gutting the RFS would threaten the development of next generation biofuels, including cellulosic ethanol plants in Iowa scheduled to start operation next year. Rather than using kernels of corn, these advanced plants will make the fuel from the "biomass" of various low-value plant material including corn stalks and wood chips.

Founded in 2006, and backed by over 360,000 supporters, the mission of VoteVets.org is to use public issue campaigns and direct outreach to lawmakers to ensure that troops abroad have what they need to complete their missions, and receive the care they deserve when they get home. VoteVets.org also recognizes veterans as a vital part of the fabric of our country and will work to protect veterans' interests in their day-to-day lives. VoteVets.org is committed to the destruction of terror networks around the world - with force when necessary - to protect America. While non-partisan, the group is the largest progressive organization of veterans in America.

Sources:

1 http://www.cbsnews.com/news/us-sees-new-weapon-in-iraq-iranian-efps/

2 http://www.growthenergy.org/ethanol-issues-policy/economy/

3 http://www.iowacorn.org/en/ethanol/