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We all should be concerned about national security

National security is a big issue for a veteran like me. It's a topic of interest for some survivalists, too, and for some foreign policy wonks, but how often does the average American think about national security? Probably never -- and that's a shame, because national security is something that should matter to all Americans. Every citizen should know the basics, so he can keep them in mind when discussing all the other, seemingly unrelated issues that so often affect national security.

In the ongoing debate over the EPA's Renewable Fuel Standards, for instance, how many Americans -- pro or con -- are even aware of, much less understand, the serious risks that ethanol-gasoline blends pose to our national security?

The U.S. Dept. of Defense is the world's largest organizational user of petroleum, requiring more than 100 million barrels of oil per year to operate planes, ships, tanks, transport vehicles, etc. Obviously, the price of petroleum, the availability of petroleum are matters of vital concern for our military leaders. The optimum is an abundant supply of inexpensive, high-quality fuel. Anything that drives up the price, restricts the availability or degrades the quality of the fuel that keeps our defense system in motion is a threat to our national security.

Unfortunately, the Renewable Fuel Standards have mandated ethanol blends that are more expensive and potentially damaging to the engines that run military vehicles and equipment. The law is well intentioned, but because it was passed in 2007, a time of peak oil, it doesn't apply to today's abundance of energy produced from new technologies.

This is a national security issue that needs to be addressed now. The EPA's proposal to lower the mandate for renewable fuel volumes is a good first step that all Americans should support. But let's not stop there. Let's acknowledge that national security is our paramount concern and roll back all the rules and regulations that put it in jeopardy.

Maj. Dennis Virden

U.S. Army (Ret.)