Congress Blocks Use of Alternative Fuels for the Military
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Despite testimony from the Pentagon’s top leaders that energy diversification is a key component of American military and security strategy, the Senate Armed Services Committee on May 24 voted 13-12 to prohibit the U.S. military from buying biofuel, a plant-based alternative to oil that is currently more expensive, unless or until its price drops to that of oil. The committee’s majority also voted to stop the Department of Defense (DOD) from building its own biofuel refinery. The House of Representatives had approved similar restrictions earlier this month.
In March, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a Democrat, touted to a Senate committee the Navy’s program to increase its use of biofuels as an alternative to oil, while former Navy secretary and senator from Virginia John Warner, a Republican, added that “there’s a clear nexus between our national security and our energy security.”
Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) may agree with Warner’s sentiment, but he calls the Defense Department’s alternative energy programs a sneaky way for Obama “to implement his all-out attack on traditional American energy development—and the military is the one place where he can force it to happen.”
In fact, however, the military has advocated a broad program of investing in alternative energy since the George W. Bush administration. DOD plans to spend $1.4 billion in 2013 to improve energy use in military operations: about 90% of that is to improve efficiency and reduce fuel use, while only 10% is to expand supply by investing in alternative and renewable energy sources. However, the Army has already begun using solar power for its far-flung operations in sunny climes.
Ironically Inhofe, who objected strenuously to what would be a $12 million subsidy to the biofuels industry, voted in March to retain various subsidies to the oil industry, which are worth about $2 billion annually. As AllGov has reported previously, U.S. subsidies to the fossil fuel industry outweigh those to alternative energy by 6 to 1. Since 1989, Inhofe has received more than $1 million in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry.
To Learn More:
Senate Committee Wants to Sink Military’s Biofuels Program (by Robert F. Service, ScienceInsider)
Alternative Fuels Essential to U.S. Defense, Mabus Says (by Bill Bartel, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)
Government Subsidies of Fossil Fuels Outdo Renewable Subsidies 6 to 1 (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Which Members of Congress Receive Most Money from Oil Industry and Environmentalists? (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Pentagon Goes Solar in War (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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