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Project LIBERTY lauded by business, government leaders

By Staff | Nov 4, 2009

Retired General Wesley Clark is currently the co-chair of Growth Energies, a biofuels energy trade organization. Clark spoke at the POET Project LIBERTY Tuesday at Emmetsburg. EDN photo by Michael Tidemann

EMMETSBURG – Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.) could have been campaigning for President as much as he was speaking as co-chair of Growth Energy Tuesday when he called for an E-15 mandate for ethanol.

Clark was speaking at the POET ethanol plant southeast of Emmetsburg. The Sioux Falls, S.D.-based company plans on starting construction on its cellulosic-ethanol production plant next year, a one-year project that when completed will give 400-450 area farmers a market for corn cobs. The company has already perfected the cellulosic ethanol process at a pilot plant at Scotland, S.D. A corn-based ethanol plant has been in operation at Emmetsburg since 2005.

Clark traced his prediction that the U.S. would have to rely on foreign oil back to the Vietnam Conflict era when as a captain he called the Pentagon’s attention to the matter.

And the problem is bigger than ever.

“Why can’t we as a nation see the problems that are starting to happen,” said Clark. “That’s why I’m a strong believer in biofuels.”

If the U.S. moved to E-15 from E-10, it could stop importing 1 million barrels of oil a day – the same amount that Venezuela is selling to the American market. Currently, though, $300-$350 billion in U.S. dollars is going out of the country every year to fund those who want to harm Americans.

“It is about national security or not being dependent on foreign oil,” Clark said.

Clark also spoke to the environmental impact of greater ethanol use. He said corn-based ethanol emits 60 percent less carbon than petroleum-based fuel and cellulose-based ethanol will emit 80-90 percent less.

He underscored the negative impact on the U.S. by pointing to the wealth of Dubai which is at the epicenter of foreign oil production. “That money came from us,” Clark said.

The $66-billion ethanol industry also provides 500,000 jobs a year, Clark said.

He then spoke to the role that the POET cellulosic ethanol plant will play in the nation’s security. Calling it “one of the first cellulosic ethanol plants, commercial scale, in America,” Clark called the event “historic”.

“This is critical to America’s national security,” said Clark. “Jeff (Broin, POET CEO), has taken a tremendous leadership role.” Broin was a founding member of Growth Energy, a trade organization for the renewable fuels industry.

“We can significantly reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources,”said Clark.

Clark then called on those present to help promote the cause of renewable fuels.

“We need your voice nationally,” Clark said. He asked for support to help convince the Environmental Protection Agency to approve E-15, up from E-10 which is approved currently.

“I think we need to stand up and tell our congressmen and senators to use common sense,” Clark said. “The work’s not done. We need your help both here and in Washington.”

Incidentally, after his formal remarks, Clark said that while he had not thought of running for President in 2012, the idea “sounded like fun.”