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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SCALISE. Mr. Chairman, the amendment I bring forward is a very basic, straightforward, commonsense amendment that deals with the funding priorities within the Department of Defense. We know we are living in a post-sequester world. We have many hearings here on Capitol Hill where we have generals and, in fact, even the Secretary of Defense talking about the threats to military operations through the sequester cuts. We all know that those are real, and especially in these tight economic times, and even if we weren't in tight economic times, but especially right now, we ought to be watching every single dollar that is spent within the Department of Defense and work to find ways to make smarter use of those dollars.

One of the things that we've found as we've combed through is that the Department of Defense has been entering into contracts to buy renewable fuels, biodiesel and other forms of renewable fuels to supplant what are the traditional, conventional fuels. The problem is that the contracts they are entering into are tremendously more expensive to the taxpayer than if they just bought conventional fuel.

So what this amendment would do is to say that the Department of Defense cannot enter into those contracts to buy nontraditional fuels at these higher costs.

I want to give a couple of examples. I think it is important to note a few of them because this is something that has been happening recently that we found. There is a memorandum of understanding between the Navy, the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Energy for each of those entities to spend $170 million each to ``assist development and support of a sustainable commercial biofuels industry.''

Now, Mr. Chairman, whatever you think of expanding and developing a biofuels industry, that's not a mission of the Department of Defense, and especially when their budgets are being cut and the generals and the Secretary of Defense are saying they don't have enough money to perform and execute their basic military operations. Yet they're spending $170 million to prop up a failing biofuels industry when they could instead be buying traditional fuels.

I just want to give one example of what we call this renewable energy sticker shock. Here you've got furloughs at the Pentagon, the military has grounded the Blue Angels, and yet they have a contract right now to buy renewable jet fuel at $59 per gallon--$59 per gallon--when the traditional cost of conventional jet fuel is $3.73 per gallon. And yet the military, to carry out some kind of social agenda, is spending an extra $56, almost $56 more per gallon, so they can buy renewable fuel. So this is one example of many where the military is not making the smartest use of their military dollars, at a time when Secretary Hagel himself has testified before committee that the services have begun to significantly reduce training and maintenance of operating forces.

So if they're reducing the training and maintenance of operating forces, why are they spending hundreds of millions of dollars to prop up a renewable energy industry that is clearly not viable yet. One day it will be, but today it's not, and yet they're spending in some cases 5, 10, 12 times more to buy this renewable energy than they would pay for conventional, wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. This amendment just says that has to stop.


Mr. SCALISE. I will close, Mr. Chairman. The gentleman makes an important point when he says that the Department of Defense is America's largest user of energy. Then I think it is even more important that they watch every penny. You know, I've got hardworking taxpayers, soccer moms in my district, that will drive an extra three blocks just to save a penny a gallon on gasoline because they can see that price at the pump, and it matters to them. If they can save a penny a gallon, they'll drive a couple of extra blocks. And yet you've got the Department of Defense, the largest user of energy in the Nation, according to my friend, saying that they're willing to not drive an extra block to save money; they'll drive a couple of extra blocks to spend $59 a gallon when they can buy that same jet fuel for $3.73 a gallon.

Again, another contract, there was a big, high-profile production on the Great Green Fleet where they flew some planes on renewable energy. It cost an extra $10 million just for that one example.

Again, they're flying the Blue Angels--they're grounded right now, and we're out there flying jets that run on algae and cooking oil, spending hundreds of millions of dollars more than if you used traditional jet fuel.

So while I applaud the gentleman's effort to support renewable energy, that's not something that the Department of Defense should be wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on when the Secretary of Defense has said that we actually are right now significantly reducing training and maintenance of operational forces. We should take those hundreds of millions of dollars we'll save with this amendment and provide it for our troops for the support they need because right now it actually risks our troops' lives. It's a 50 percent higher risk for them to be transporting renewable fuels than it is to transport traditional fuels because of the density of that renewable fuel. So it puts them more at risk. I urge support of this amendment. Let's save those hundreds of millions of dollars and dedicate it towards our Nation's security.


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