Sunday, February 24, 2008

How will DOD Comply with the New Law

On January 30, 2008, Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman and Ranking Member Tom Davis requested information from Secretary Robert Gates on how the Department of Defense will comply with The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (became law on December 19, 2007) barring the government from purchasing alternative fuels for vehicles and planes, such as fuels from a coal-to-liquids process or tar sands, if those fuels have higher greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels.

(See Letter in pdf)

Section 526 of that law says:

No Federal agency shall enter into a contract for procurement of an alternative or synthetic fuel, including a fuel produced from nonconventional petroleum sources, for any mobility-related use, other than for research or testing, unless the contract specifies that the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production and combustion of the fuel supplied under the contract must, on an ongoing basis, be less than or equal to such emissions from the equivalent conventional fuel produced from conventional petroleum sources.

Back to Waxman's Letter.

It states:

“…As you may know, coal-to-liquid fuels are estimated to produce almost double the greenhouse gas emissions of the comparable conventional fuel. The provision is also applicable to fuels derived from tar sands,

“Developers of coal-to-liquid fuels have claimed that the greater greenhouse gas emissions can be offset by capturing and sequestering most of the carbon dioxide from the production process and using biomass for a portion of the fuel in the production process. But absent contractual guarantees and verification that the carbon dioxide will be successfully permanently stored and a sufficient quantity of biomass will be used, there is no assurance that the additional greenhouse gas emissions will not be released. "

and asks DoD to

“1. Identify all active or potential projects under consideration by the Department (prior to the adoption of section 526) related to the use or purchase of coal-to-liquids fuels, fuels from tar sands, or other alternative or synthetic fuels, excluding fuels derived from biomass….

2. Provide for each active or potential project identified under the previous paragraph (a) a description of the project, its status, any associated private party developer, and any projected financing arrangements and cost details; (b) a copy of any environmental evaluations; and (c) a description of the steps the Department will take to ensure that the project will comply with section 526, on a project-specific basis.

5. Explain how the Department will comply with section 526 with respect to fuel that is derived from tar sands or other unconventional petroleum sources, but is purchased under a contract that does not specify the source of the fuel. In particular, describe how the Department will ensure that fuel supply contracts are drafted so as to exclude the provision of such fuels if they have higher greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuel.”

The reply was requested by February 15, 2008. Time is up. And No reply is available (to public).

In fact, Section 518 of the Law directs the DOD and DOE to study the potential use of Energy Savings Performance Contracts in nonbuilding applications, which is defined to include vehicles and federally owned equipment to generate electricity or transport water. But that was omitted in the Letter.

Question: We know that Air Force continues certifying the B-52s, C-17s and soon B-1s to run on synthetic fuel. Does that mean that USAF has to drop the plan and forget millions of dollars spent?


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