Powerful Names Unite

USESC urges support for alternative fuels, stronger infrastructure
| October 24, 2011

The only title missing from the member list for the United States Energy Security Council is a former U.S. President. The list is impressive and includes former Nobel Prize-winning scientists, U.S. Navy, Army, defense and agriculture secretaries, former senators, former major oil company executives and other familiar names such as Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the federal reserve, and Stephen Hadley, former national security advisor. Robert “Bud” McFarlane, former national security advisor during the Reagan administration, spoke with Biorefining Magazine about what all the big names add up to.

The simple answer is something we’ve all heard before: the USESC is concerned about the nation’s dependence on foreign oil, McFarlane explains. But that simple answer is more complex than many think. “Because that single fuel moves roughly 97 percent of all air, sea and land transportation, it is really the foundation—the lynch pin of our entire economy,” McFarlane says. The economic risk of purchasing so much foreign oil not only makes us vulnerable “to the whims” of OPEC countries, but it also displaces an enormous amount of money away from the U.S. That oil money, he says, “is recycled back to purchase American companies and influence over the American government.”

But as bad as that sounds, there is good news. “Unlike 40 years ago when we faced this thing, today you really could introduce alternative fuels,” he says. And that, McFarlane adds, is exactly why the USESC formed. “It is a matter of getting these alternatives to be viable options, not in terms of technology, but in terms of infrastructure and production levels,” adding that when he goes to hedge funds or investors and urges them to invest in these things, he gets the same answer. “They say, Bud, we get it—they are all proven.”

To do their part in supporting alternative fuels and achieve their goals of influencing Congress to do the same thing, McFarlane and the other members are tapping into mainstream media (The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal) by writing op-ed pieces, doing interviews with magazines such as Biorefining Magazine, or he says, by reaching out to the networks the members are already connected to. Like the list of member names, that network list is impressive. As McFarlane explains, those networks include academic circles at Stanford University, the science and technology community linked to Lockheed Martin, or through John Hofmeister, former President of Shell Oil North America. “Wow,” McFarlane says, “there is somebody that will get attention when the industry that is most opposed to competition is standing up and saying we have to do this.”  We agree, Bud. 

—Luke Geiver