The Republican-led House Armed Services Committee voted earlier this week to stop the Department of Defense from buying alternative fuels that cost more than fossil-based fuels. This would halt current US military programs that have been testing biofuels and other alternative fuel technologies that could reduce our reliance on oil from the Middle East.
As Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, put it last year:
For the military, it creates a strategic challenge because too much of our oil comes from either potentially or actually volatile places on Earth. We don’t have to do anymore than read the headlines about that. We would never allow the countries that we buy petroleum products from to build our ships or our aircraft or our ground vehicles. But we give them a say as to whether those ships sail or those airplanes fly or those ground vehicles operate. We give them a say because they provide fuel for it.
And probably not coincidentally:
Beyond the immediate effect on military operations, the House action could also throw a wrench in a major Obama Administration biofuel initiative that was designed to provide a long term economic boost to struggling rural communities.
Launched last summer, the initiative pairs USDA with the Navy and the Department of Energy in a $510 million partnership with the private sector, to develop a biofuel supply chain including research and development, growing and harvesting biofuel crops, transportation, and refining.
Given the realities of election year politics, we shall see which special interest prevails here.