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I rise today in strong support of the amendment to protect the military's ability to purchase American-made fuels.
Powering our military with American-made energy makes our country safer and our economy stronger. Tying our hands and forcing the American military to depend on foreign oil is short-sighted and dangerous. Instead, we need to give our commanders the flexibility to power our military with home-grown energy, like Montana camelina that supports jobs right here in America.
The Department of Defense (DOD) is the largest single user of oil in the world --consuming more than 355,000 barrels of oil per day last year. Despite increased domestic production of fossil fuels, rising global prices and market volatility caused DOD's fuel bill to rise by more than $19Bil in 2011. The trend is expected to continue.
This is why I strongly support the efforts of our military leaders to develop and employ alternative fuels. Our military leaders recognize the problem of rising fuel costs and dependence on foreign oil. The Pentagon's largest energy user, the Air Force, has established a goal of purchasing half of its domestically consumed aviation fuel from alternative sources by the end of 2016. The Navy has also invested in the F-18 Green Hornet program- a fighter jet powered by a biofuel blend.
The DOD relies on a sustainable biofuel market to meet its goal of lessening the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
Section 313 of the 2012 NDAA will limit our military's ability to develop alternative fuels.
Members on both sides of the aisle are concerned that this section of the Committee-passed bill regarding the use of alternative fuels by the DOD, could cause harm to our national security and military readiness.
That's why I am fighting to allow the Pentagon to enter into long-term deals to buy biofuels, as long as they're made right here in the USA.
Montana is in the perfect position to provide the homegrown fuels our nation needs to move toward energy security. There is clearly a demand from both the military and the private sector to use American-made biofuels.
In 2011, the Navy, the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture aimed to assist the development and support of a sustainable commercial biofuels industry. They investigated the development biofuels as alternatives to diesel and jet fuels.
The agreement included Montana farmers and corporations. Limitations placed on our military's procurement of alternative fuel would be detrimental to Montana's alternative fuel industry.
As a result of investing in biofuels, renewable Montana-grown crops like camelina have been used by our military as the predominate feedstock for biofuel blends. I call these freedom fuels, because they help get us off of foreign oil and help bring good paying jobs to Montana.
Researchers at Montana State University Northern in Havre, Montana showed early that camelina to be a promising dryland crop for use in biodiesel and other bioproducts. Camelina, also known as "Gold of Pleasure," is an oilseed crop that includes canola, mustard and broccoli. The small-seeded, cool-climate crop has been grown in Europe and the Northern plains of the United States.
Since its initial production, the cost per gallon of camelina based fuel in Montana has dropped annually by half.
That's why I'm fighting to ramp up our domestic energy production, whether it's biofuels, wind, coal, oil, natural gas, or hydropower. We need an energy policy that puts America back in control. We must reduce our dependence on foreign oil and work to develop all of our domestic resources - just like we have in Montana.
Alternative fuels will not replace fossils fuels all-together; however, replacing even a small fraction of fuel consumed by our military with alternative fuels made here in the United States can improve strategic flexibility, insulate the defense budget from spikes in the cost fossil fuels, create good-paying jobs for Americans, and make the United States a more secure nation.
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