In my previous post and
in many others I have been saying that it is not the US Defense Department’s
job to push an uncompetitive industry with tax payers’ money, especially at a
time of fiscal cliff.
On 14 March 2013, U.S.
Senator Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania Republican) filed two amendments that aim to slash
biofuel spending from H.R. 933, a military appropriations bill (Department of
Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing
Appropriations Act, 2013).
One amendment offered by Sen.
Toomey would transfer $60 million in funding currently allocated for the DOD biofuel
program under the heading for advanced drop-in biofuel production, and reassign
it to support military operation and maintenance expenses of the DOD in
connection with programs, projects and activities. The second amendment would
reduce the amount of funding allocated to the military’s alternative energy
research by a total of $114 million. The funding would also be reallocated for
operation and maintenance expenses.
proposed these amendments after learning that the Tobyhanna Army Depot plans to
lay off 418 civilian contract employees. “it makes little sense to waste money
on inefficient, overpriced energy sources when we could use those same funds to
help support critical maintenance services for
the warfighter,” he said in the statement on his website. (Sen. Toomey Offers Amendment Supporting Military
Installations In Pennsylvania And Nationwide).
But the Senate defeated
his amendment that would have transferred money from the Navy’s biofuels
program to increase the DOD’s operations and maintenance funding. On March 20, 2013
Toomey Disappointed that his amendment failed. He
said that " it's very disappointing that a number of my colleagues would
rather spend taxpayer dollars on more wasteful biofuel subsidies than support
essential maintenance operations for our military."
President of advanced biofuels company Novozymes,
naturally, praised the Senate for continuing its support of the Navy’s advanced
biofuels program. “Every day we import oil, we’re putting our troops, families
and country at needless risk. We can reduce that risk with a secure energy
supply, including renewable fuels.”
Similarly, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and his
congressional advocates have long argued that conventional fuels make the
military vulnerable to oil market price shocks, which can force the DOD to take
money from training and spend it on fuel.
I guess people who use these kinds of arguments do
not follow at all what is happening in the US oil market. Monthly crude oil
production in the United States is expected to exceed the amount of U.S. crude
oil imports later this year for the first time since February 1995. The gap
between monthly U.S. crude oil production and imports is projected to be almost
2 million barrels per by the end of next year, according to Energy
By the way, defenders of DOD’s biofuels program
should with nonsense argument that the biofuel spending is only a small portion
of the DOD Budget. If you want something look small, then use ratios, like the
share of the national security budget in the US GDP. Right only around 5%, and
yet we are talking about over
$600 billion, or a trillion
dollars, which is as much as the total net oil export revenues of OPEC
So, focusing on the angel
side of biofuels is not a right thing to do. A more cautious view is necessary,
as does the U S Air Force.
The new Air
Force Energy Strategic Plan states that USAF
is certifying its aircraft to fly on different alternative fuel blends,
including biofuel blends to ensure that it “will be ready for whatever private
industry is able to bring to market. “ This is a clever approach than the Navy.
Be ready to what industry can bring, but don’t push the industry to deliver
One of the goals of
USAF is to increase use of alternative aviation fuels. The objective is to
increase use of cost-competitive drop-in alternative aviation fuel blends for
non-contingency operations to 50% of total consumption by 2025. Another clever
approach, “cost-competitive.” Even for the ground vehicles it states the
objective very clear: ” Use alternative fuels 100% of the time when
alternative fuels are available and cost effective.
Lawrence P. Farrell Jr of the National Defense Industry Association says
that “Washington cannot control its finances and balance its budget (…) trillion-dollar
deficits can’t continue indefinitely. It is also a fact that the nation has
spent too much, promised too much and borrowed too much." Although he is
talking about the US, it is true for the Defense Department’s biofuels program