Wesley Clark, United States Army four-star general retired, called for a new energy policy designed to end America’s dependence on foreign sources of oil and create jobs at home. He made his case during a keynote address at the recent Alternative Clean Transportation Expo (ACT), which wrapped up last week in Long Beach, CA.  

“Here is my proposition to you,” he told the packed meeting room, “Austerity as a policy is not what is required right now. Cutting people’s jobs and incomes just doesn’t work…More than twenty million people want to work. So how do you grow? How do you create jobs? It used to seem like it just happened automatically.

“The truth is,” Clark said, ‘most countries that are growing today have a growth strategy. Brazil is growing using its natural resources. China is growing using its inexpensive labor resources. What can we do?”

Clark’s solution to the economic growth problem was also at the heart of his proposal for achieving energy independence: develop as many available domestic energy resources as practicable without damaging the environment in the process-- and start now. “No single element in the U.S. fuels market can do this alone,” he noted. “We import nine and a half million barrels of oil every day.”

We have to do it all, Clark explained: improve the fuel economy of our vehicles, increase domestic oil production (although we know that it can’t last forever), and increase the production and use of alternative power for transportation including electricity, natural gas, propane, methane and biofuels.

“My challenge to you is this: What can you do [as alternative power suppliers and vehicle and engine makers] to help reduce foreign oil usage and how much can you do?” he asked the audience. “The thing about the alternative energy business is that everybody hates everybody else. We just have to work together in the liquid fuels market because none of us can do it all.

“The liquid fuels market represents an historic opportunity,” Clark continued. “This does not require a government program.  Wall Street would love to invest in this, so would foreign investors. [We can do it without a government program, but] we can’t do it without private sector leadership. This is the time to make your move.”