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Indiana and Oil Dependency: How Hoosiers Are Helping With a National Threat

A retired general, who is a propulsion expert and adviser, says research at Crane and other Indiana facilities, is part of the solution.

NEWBERRY, Ind.--Research on batteries and alternative fuel that is being done at Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center and the Battery Innovation Center in Indiana, may be key in helping reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

A retired United States Air Force General, who is also a military advisor, said that could also help reduce a national security threat.

"As long as we're dependent on foreign sources of fuel, we're subject to price controls and all kinds of things that could happen," said retired United States Air Force Lt. Gen. Ken Eickmann, who is on CNA's Military Advisory Board, and visited the facilities in Crane Tuesday.

He said because the military and the economy are both dependent on oil and fuel prices, that makes the issue a security threat.

"If oil flow from the Persian Gulf were blocked...that could have some significant impacts on our economy," said Eickmann.

The solution comes in two forms, he said. That's importing less oil and improving technology based on alternative fuel sources. He said he believes fuel standards for industry that are currently in place, should remain in place through at least 2030.

"The Military Advisory Board feels like it's important to keep them in place, at least for now. If we keep them in place through 2030 we can reduce our oil consumption from the Persian Gulf and Venezuela."

He said that even though America is doing much better with consuming our own oil than in the past, we still import about five million barrels a day.

Indiana may play a big part in the other part of the solution-alternative fuels.

"We need to diversify our sources of energy. We shouldn't be all too dependent on one source," said Eickmann. "The auto industry is a global industry and Indiana has a lot of workers that support the auto industry. There are more people employed in Indiana working on hybrids and electric vehicles and other innovations to help improve the auto industry and fuel economy standards than any state other than Michigan."

The state is home to more than 32,000 jobs focused on increasing the fuel efficiency of vehicles, said Eickmann, who was once the Commander of the Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright-Patterson AFB, where he led the nation's largest center of excellence for research, development, and acquisition of aircraft, aeronautical equipment, and munitions.

"I think Indiana has a large role to play in this advanced energy economy," he said. "This movement toward advanced energy is going to happen in the world whether the U.S. takes a leadership role or not. And I think it's in their best interest that they do take that leadership role and I think Indiana is postured to be a major player in that."

PHOTO: Thinkstock/Digital Vision

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