Former Gen. Wesley Clark, chairman of the pro-ethanol group Growth Energy, will launch a campaign today urging lawmakers to establish mandatory country of origin labeling for gasoline.
Clark will announce the "Label My Fuel" campaign in Decatur, Ill., at the Farm Progress Show, an exhibition of advanced technology, business practices and manufacturing for agricultural producers.
"The American people have a right to know where their fuel is coming from," Clark said in an interview. "Most Americans don't want their paychecks going to Venezuela and other regimes that don't agree with and support the U.S. Requiring country of origin labeling of our fuel supply will empower consumers with the knowledge and ability to make informed decisions."
Clark said he saw the case for energy independence as a way to reduce the U.S. need for Middle East oil and thereby avoid future military commitments in the region. The labeling program would indirectly help Growth Energy's goal of encouraging renewable fuel production by allowing consumers to make a statement about energy independence, Clark added.
Deciding whether to buy Saudi, Mexican, Venezuelan or Libyan fuel is a "highly relevant consideration for the American consumer," he added.
To manage the campaign, Clark will have the assistance of Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis, who was president of the National Farmers Union when it ran a successful campaign to implement country of origin labeling for agricultural products.
"Country of origin labeling for fuel will let consumers know if they are pumping a domestic-made fuel, like ethanol, or fuel from a foreign source," Buis said in a statement.
Clark said he envisions a labeling program that would list the country of origin as specifically as possible, but the label could contain the names of several countries, just as country of origin labeling for beef indicates whether the meat may come from one of several countries.
Oil companies, Clark said, keep track of "every lot of oil" that enters the United States, but they would have to track it farther "downstream" if a labeling program is enacted. Clark said he could not yet name congressional supporters of the labeling proposal, but noted he has discussed it with House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson.