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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I am going to be very proud to support amendment No. 2985. I think it has to do with our military readiness; I think it has to do with our national security; and I think that the fact that we have this opportunity is commendable. I thank Senator Udall for it.

Striking section 313 is important because that section harms DOD's ability to diversify its fuel supplies by developing and using effective alternative fuels.

Now, lots of colleagues can come down here and proclaim this isn't important or it is important. You know what. I want to listen to the DOD themselves and what they say. There was an Armed Forces press service news report in July 2012, and this is what they said:

Smart investing and less reliance on petroleum-based fuels will help ensure an agile, lethal, and adaptable combat force, and, ultimately, national security.

So, Mr. President, I was distraught when I heard that the Armed Services Committee, by one vote, put in the section that would stop the ability of the DOD to invest in these very important fuels so they can have an ``agile, lethal, and adaptable combat force and, ultimately, national security.''

Now this is coming from the DOD. Why on Earth would anyone support something that the DOD tried to take away, the ability of the DOD to have an agile force?

I don't understand it. I can't understand it. The report also quotes Assistant Secretary of Defense Sharon Burke who said:

The department is going to have ships, planes and vehicles that were designed to use petroleum fuels for a very long time to come. ..... [Alternative fuels] investment ensures our equipment can operate on a wide range of fuels, and that's important for our readiness over the long term.

How many wars do we have to have over oil?

How many wars do we have over oil? I can tell you a story from a colleague of mine who said he went up to the White House when George W. Bush was President before the Iraq war, and George W. Bush had pictures of all the oil wells in Iraq.

If anyone says there was no connection to oil and that war, I would say they are wrong. I have met with many veterans who say the same thing. They don't want to go and fight and die for oil.

So this is of critical importance, this vote. There is no more important mission for the Department of Defense than to fight and win battles needed to defend our Nation and return our troops home safely to their families.

Section 313 could undercut the ability of the Department of Defense to achieve these goals.

In a letter to Senator Udall, Vice Admiral Cullom said:

Section 313--

That's the section we are trying to strike--

Section 313 is overly broad and has the potential to restrict investments that would address tactical and operational needs for our Navy. ..... As fuel technologies advance, the Navy may wish to test and satisfy multiple types of alternative fuel, including some that might be 100 percent alternative fuel, not a blend.

Why would anyone in this Senate want to stop us from developing alternative fuels? I don't get it. We are trying so hard to become energy independent. We have made great success under President Obama with fuel economy in place and investment in alternative energy.

The military says it is important for them to ``ensure an agile, lethal and adaptable combat force, and ultimately, national security.'' Their words. In addition to everything else, this is a need that the military has definitely outlined for us.

A Statement of Administration Policy on the House Defense authorization bill, which contains a nearly identical provision, says that affecting DOD's ability to procure alternative fuels in this way would ``further increase America's reliance on fossil fuels, thereby contributing to geopolitical instability and endangering our interests abroad.''

Some of the same people who called for boycotts on Iran, which I support, somehow believe it is not important for us to be free from reliance on those kinds of countries for our oil. It makes no sense. We can't make these compartments. We are going after countries that have oil, and we are right to do it because they are dangerous, many of them. We are embargoing. We have embargoes on many of them. We have sanctions on many of them. At the same time, with the other hand we are saying to the DOD: Forget about alternative fuels. It makes no sense from a national security perspective.

In addition to harming the military's ability to achieve its goals that I have outlined here, that were written very clearly by the Defense Department itself, section 313 precludes research into fuels such as hydrogen, which has the potential to power some military vehicles over much longer missions.

I have been around a while. Something tells me Big Oil is calling the shots. I would hope not, but I don't understand why this section, which Senator Udall is trying to strike, is in this bill when the military says it is critical for them to continue this program.

The section could also prevent DOD from purchasing fuels that are sold today in the United States, such as E-85, which is 85 percent ethanol. The Department of Defense has flex-fuel vehicles in its suite that can run on E-85.

Can you imagine going after that as well? It would restrict DOD's efforts to develop technologies to generate fuel at tactical locations, including waste to energy. These are precisely the types of technologies in which the Nation should be investing.

I thank Senator Udall for bringing this to our attention. This is a very important amendment, perhaps one of the most important I have voted on in a long time.

I will close by saying this: If you believe this country should be energy independent, then vote with Senator Udall. If you believe it is dangerous for us to rely on oil from countries who want to cause us harm, then you should support the Udall amendment. If you believe it is good for our health, our environment, to invest in alternative energy, then vote for the Udall amendment. It is a win-win-win and, most of all, the military tells us we should continue this program. It is important so that we have an agile, adaptable force, and it is important for our national security.

I will be proud to vote for this amendment.

I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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