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Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mrs. SHAHEEN. Mr. President, I come to the floor this evening to address Senator Toomey's amendment, which would remove the provisions around biofuels, amendment No. 115. I think it is important to point out that this is really more than a budget issue. The Presiding Officer understands, as he and I worked together to address this when we passed the Defense authorization bill. This is really a national security issue.

I had the opportunity, as chair of the Water and Power Subcommittee in Energy, to go down to Norfolk to have a hearing aboard the USS Kearsarge to talk about exactly what the Navy--and they are reflective of the military--is doing to address energy use. I saw some very amazing progress in terms of their reduction in energy use, their energy efficiency. I saw some of the things they are doing, such as using solar blankets and small, compact batteries out in the field. This allows them to do their mission much better.

They pointed out that our access to energy is complicated by political unrest and by threats to our supply lines around the globe. We spend billions to protect these fragile supply lines.

Oil prices are set on a global market, often driven by speculation and rumor. Our military is too often exposed to price shocks. The military consumes about 300,000 barrels of oil a day, which is about $30 million a day.

The Federal Government is the largest consumer of energy in the United States, with 93 percent consumed by the military. For every dollar rise in a barrel of oil, the Navy incurs a cost of $30 million at current prices. Last year the Navy incurred a $1.1 billion budget shortfall because the cost of a barrel of oil increased by $38. The commander of the Pacific Fleet was forced to cut $200 million from its flying and steaming costs because of those cost increases.

In fiscal years 2011 and 2012, the Department of Defense came up $5.6 billion short for military operations and maintenance because it needed to spend more on fuel than anticipated.

As I saw in Norfolk on the Kearsarge, each of our services is making real progress on energy efficiency and moving to alternative fuels. This is not the time to hinder those efforts.

The per-gallon cost of test quantities of advanced biofuels under Navy contracts has declined more than 90 percent over the past 2 years, and it is going to continue to decline. The Navy and the Department of Defense have been on the leading edge of innovation and technological achievements over the last 200 years. This is another example of innovation and technological advancement.

Last year the Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Jonathan Greenert, sent a letter to my office advocating his strong support for the Navy's efforts on biofuels and urging Congress to provide him with the flexibility to continue this effort. He states:

I support the Secretary of the Navy's efforts ..... to accelerate the establishment of a domestic alternative fuels industry through DPA, Title III. This effort will enhance our energy security by diversifying the supply of fuels.

Restricting this biofuel effort will "impede America's energy security.''

I applaud my colleague Senator Toomey for the efforts he made to look at what we are spending in government to attempt to reduce those costs. He and I are working very closely in an attempt to reduce the cost of sugar subsidies in this country. This is a situation where, for short-term gain, they would risk the long-term benefit.

I would urge my colleagues to oppose the Toomey amendment and ensure our military continues to be on the leading edge of energy security for the world.

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