U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), in a letter to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus requested a detailed report on the total cost of a recent event highlighting the U.S. Navy's great "Green Fleet" and expressed concern for the cost of "greening" the U.S. military at a time of drastic budget cuts.
"While I continue to support the development and use of all alternative fuels, I have grave concerns about the cost of "greening' our military and the overall impact on our readiness," said Inhofe in the letter. "It has been reported that the Navy spent $12 Million for 450,000 gallons of biofuel which equals approximately $27 a gallon. When added to an additional 450,000 gallons of traditional fuel, the cost per gallon is reduced to $15 a gallon, still over three times the cost of traditional fuel. Over the last three years we have seen the budget of the Navy drastically reduced, but yet the Navy can spend $13.5 Million on fuel that should have cost only $4.5 Million."
In response to the U.S. Navy recently participating in the Rim of the Pacific multinational naval exercise with the sailing of the great "Green Fleet," Inhofe requested a detailed cost report of the event, including total fuel burned, cost to transport the fuel to the event, cost to the Navy to paint logos on its aircrafts and ships to promote the event and cost to repaint after the event's conclusion, and cost of the green souvenir hats and t-shirt to mark the event. A copy of the letter can be read here.
A recent DOD report estimates the biofuels initiative will cost an extra $1.8 billion a year in fuel costs for just the Navy. Inhofe believes energy efficiency in the military is a worthy pursuit when solutions are sensible and affordable. He has been a leading voice in arguing that the DOD should not serve as the testing ground for costly, unproven alternative energy solutions such as these biofuel technologies.
In the SASC-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY'13, the following amendments offered by Inhofe were included:
Limitation on availability of funds for procurement of alternative fuels: No funds authorized in Fiscal Year 2013 may be obligated or expended by the Department of Defense for the production or purchase of sole purchase of an alternative fuel if the cost of producing or purchasing the alternative fuel exceeds the cost of producing or procuring a traditional fossil fuel that would be used for the same purpose as the alternative fuel, with an exception for the DOD to complete engine or fleet certification for 50/50 fuel blends using Research and Development funds.
Prohibition on Biofuel Refinery Construction: Prohibits the Department of Defense from providing funding for the construction of a biofuels refinery or any other facility or infrastructure used to refine biofuels unless the requirement is specifically authorized by law.
Inhofe also offered an amendment to exempt the DOD from Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, but the measure was defeated during markup 13-13. Section 526 limits federal agencies in their ability to purchase petroleum products derived from unconventional or alternative fuels sources whose life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions exceed those of conventional oil. As such, it prevents the DOD from using alternative fuels such as oil from tar sands, coal-to-liquid and natural gas-to-liquid fuels. Under the leadership of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the DOD supported full repeal of section 526.