Biofuels are not the cure
At the end of November 2012, the United States Senate voted in favor of
repealing a section of the Defense Appropriations Bill that would have blocked
the DOD from purchasing biofuels if they cost more than conventional fuels.
I see that the amendment created again such unjustified hopes that only an
uninformed person would believe. Supposedly biofuels investments (largely
funded by taxpayers money) will give a push for clean energy investment which
will create so many jobs. What more is that investment in biofuels will
supposedly help reduce the Pentagon’s dependence on foreign oil, protect the
fuel budget against oil price volatility and encourage the commercialization of
The American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers responded quite good: “While there may be a place for biofuels in the U.S.
military’s future, the decision to invest in those fuels should be based on
sound economic judgment, and not political pandering that does nothing to
advance national security.”
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) unfortunately lost the battle. He was right
that the added expense of biofuels was wasteful at a time when the DOD is being
forced to cut significant its budget and faces the looming sequestrations cuts
of the fiscal cliff.
Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy, should be congratulated for winning the
battle, not because he was right but because he was able to convince people based
on twisted or half truths. Although he still hasn’t understood the difference
between aviation gasoline and jet fuel I congratulate him sincerely for one
thing: He changed the way we the DOD thinks about energy. This culture change about energy in the Navy went
so far that for fiscal year 2014, the officer selection boards will give “special
consideration for promotion of those men and women who’ve made energy resource
management a priority and who have excelled at it.”
To the Secretary
Mabus and all those who amended the Bill, I repeat some hard facts:
Whether the US will
surpass Saudi Arabia’s oil production by 2020 as claimed
by the International Energy Agency or not, the real issue is that the oil prices will not drop significantly because oil is a global
commodity and oil prices are largely set by international market forces.
So, instead of
focusing on the oil availability and dependence, the DOD should better focus on
the costs. Afterall, oil will always be available to DOD, where it needs and
how much it needs. The real question is: at what cost?
Finally, even if (next to impossible) the US military becomes
independent on imported oil and procures its (domestically produces) oil at
reasonable costs, the US will continue to spend over $80 billion a year protecting maritime oil transit
routes and infrastructure around the world. The US military runs on oil and
will continue to fight for oil.