National Security Network

Retired major [general] praises renewable energy

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News Tri-city Herald 1 April 2011

Energy Energy

What does soldiering have to do with renewable energy production?

Plenty, said retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton during a news conference Thursday afternoon at the Nine Canyon Wind Project southeast of Kennewick.

Eaton, who lives near Tacoma, was in town to talk about the connection between energy independence and national security.

He retired in 2006 after serving in the Army for 33 years on missions throughout the world, including in Iraq, Somalia and Bosnia.

Eaton currently is a senior adviser for National Security Network, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that works on national security issues.

Charlie Card, a distributor of solar water heaters for Kennewick-based Silk Road Solar, introduced Eaton. He said Eaton came to see the energy production innovations taking place in Eastern Washington.

Eaton said he has seen first-hand the connection between national security and American energy consumption. He has seen how many aircraft carriers and airmen and seamen it takes to transport foreign oil here and to protect those oil supplies.

"The total allocation of money, it's very high," he said.

Protecting foreign oil supplies comes at other costs, said Richard Smith, western regional director of the Portland-based VetVoice Foundation.

More than 1,000 soldiers have died since 2001 in fuel-related missions, he said.

That's why Eaton and Smith support efforts to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil.

"Bringing down consumption of imported oil is very much in the interest of national security," Eaton said.

Eaton added he thinks there's many ways to achieve that goal.

He said he supports Rep. Doc Hastings' idea of opening more American public lands to oil drilling. Hastings, R-Wash., is chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.

Eaton also said Washington provides a wealth of renewable energy resources to meet national energy needs.

He noted how the 63 wind turbines operated by Energy Northwest that he stood beneath generate up to 95 megawatts of power. He also pointed out the state's abundance of hydroelectric power as well as its solar power potential.

Eaton said the state's renewable energy resources make it a "perfect security match."

He also promoted one more cause. He noted many soldiers, seamen, airmen and Marines who now are serving the nation will be returning home and looking for work.

He described them as "very disciplined, bright, eager to learn, a very valuable asset to anyone that wants to employ them." And Eaton urged renewable energy companies to consider employing them.