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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. JOHNSON of South Dakota. Mr. President, I come to the floor today in strong support of amendment No. 3095 offered by Senator Hagan to strike section 2823 from the National Defense Authorization Act
Section 2823 would severely limit the Department of Defense's ability to use alternative fuels to enhance our Nation's national security. This section would needlessly prohibit the Department of Defense from entering into a contract to plan, design, refurbish, or construct a biofuels refinery or any other facility or infrastructure used to refine biofuels unless such planning, design, refurbishment, or construction is specifically authorized by law.

Under the authorities of the Defense Production Act, DPA, the Department of Defense has created the Advanced Drop-In Biofuels Production Project. This initiative is focused on creating a public-private partnership that will provide incentives for private sector investment in cost-competitive, advanced biofuels production capability. This initiative requires at least a one-to-one cost share with private stakeholders.

In furtherance of this initiative, in August 2011, the Department of Navy, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy signed a memorandum of understanding to invest $510 million, equally shared among them, for investments in the joint construction or retrofitting of plants and refineries to produce advanced biofuels. Now is not the time to prevent this important program from continuing. Before this project can be finalized, the President has to determine that this is essential to the national defense. Only then will it go forward. I am confident that this requirement in the DPA will ensure that only the most important projects for our national security will go forward.

As chairman of the Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over the DPA, I believe it is misguided to limit the authority of the Defense Department to continue with this project. As the largest single customer of oil in the world, the Department of Defense spent $17 billion in fiscal year 2011 on fuel. This dependency on a single source of energy forces the Department of Defense to reallocate funding from other critical needs when oil prices spike. An increase of $1.00 in the price of oil costs the Department of Defense over $100 million. Last year alone, spikes in oil prices required the Navy to pay an additional $500 million on higher fuel costs.

The renewable fuels industry has played an important role in addressing our energy needs. Unfortunately, section 2823 would hinder our Nation's ability to promote renewable energy sources within our country. By striking this provision, we will allow the Defense Department to retain its authority to take essential steps to diversify the energy sources available to our military. I believe that energy security is an essential part of national security.

I thank Senator Hagan for offering this amendment. I urge all my colleagues to support this important amendment.

I yield the floor.


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