Retired General Wesley Clark joined Iowa Congressman Bruce Braley Wednesday to talk about a bill Braley has introduced that would require gas pumps to carry labels that indicates the country where the fuel originated.
“I believe if people go to the gas pump and realize, okay, just spent 42 dollars filling up and 12 dollars is going to Venezuela, 14 dollars of that is going to Nigeria, then suddenly the connection will be made and people will be asking ‘why can’t we find substitutes at home?'”, Clark says, “why can’t we have more effective exploration and production, and synthetic oil in the United States.”
Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, says skeptics have said it would be too tough to track all the fuels that’re mixed. But he says there is now the technology to do that. He says some of the technological challenges to making this happen with gas is now something we can handle, so the bill would give the Department of Energy one year to study the problem and make sure it is feasible and not have an adverse impact on small business owners. Clark says the U.S. spends $400-billion each year on foreign oil, and the labeling would make people seek home grown fuels to keep the money here.
Clark says the tax alone on keeping the billions in the U.S. would turn over and generate “close to a hundred billion dollars in tax receipts,” which he says could be used to fund education, and infrastructure improvement. And he says it would increase the demand needed to bring the biofuels industry, ethanol and cellulosic ethanol forward, as he says the demand is needed to compete with other fuels.
Braley says the labeling would spur increased domestic oil production without the government mandating it. Braley says they believe one of the direct benefits of the labeling would be increased consumer demand and that would lead to potential expansion of existing offshore production of fuel, enhanced production on drilling leases that are not being used, and the expanded production of biofuels. Braley says expansion of biofuel production would in turn lead to thousands of new jobs. The “country of origin labeling” is used on food and Braley says it should be used for fuel too.
He says he envisions some type of display at the pump that retailers could update, along with information inside the gas stations. And Braley says many stations have websites that could provide the information on the country of origin of fuels. Clark retired from the U.S. Army and was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 before pulling out of the race. Clark is currently the co-chair of the pro-ethanol group Growth Energy.