I have worked on both energy and national security issues for a number of years. "Of Mustard Fuel and Marines" by R.Adm. Robert James (ret.) in the Wall Street Journal of August 2 is both tendentious and inaccurate to an extraordinary degree. Our fighting men and women and Rocky Mountain Institute Chairman Amory Lovins, who often advises them on energy issues (and has posted a detailed reply under James’s oped), should be proud that a former oil company executive (VP of Mobil, economist at Continental Oil) should have to descend to such distortions in order to attack their efforts to move our military forces as quickly as possible away from dangerous oil dependence.
What motivates the military to work hard at this? "Fads" says James and "political correctness". He misrepresents Lovins as advocating the use of land appropriate for food crops to produce alternative fuels when in fact for decades the scientist has rather been a leading advocate of the use of feedstocks such as agricultural waste, prairie grass, and trash. James also ignores the innovative efforts by the Navy, his own military service, to use algae that require no land (just underground steel tanks) to make aviation fuel out of cheap sugar, as well as other types of algae that use very small amounts of land.
James ridicules "inventing cars that get 125 mpg". But my family already drives two that come near that: a plug-in Prius and a Chevy Volt. He also mocks the Marines, because of land-use issues, for experimenting with a truck-based plant that turns poppies into biofuels. But poppies are not known for their nutrition.R. James Woolsey is Chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a venture partner with Lux Capital, and a former Under Secretary of the Navy and Director of Central Intelligence.
His strangest strawman is a mythical Marine unit commander, fanatically green, whom James feels he must caution not to endanger his unit by erecting a three-story windmill that discloses its position to the enemy. I have known a number of Marines over the years. This argument of James's is like the 13th chime of a clock – it is not only bizarre in and of itself, it calls into question everything that issues from the same source.