There are growing concerns about the production and use of biofuels: impact on land use, energy and emissions from growing, harvesting, processing and burning biofuels; rise in food prices; lower power densities; reduced energy efficiency and effectiveness; reduced combat range; corrosion; and damage to engines, fuel tanks and supply lines. The bottom line is we are only beginning to understand the use of biofuels. They have not, as some have stated, arrived.
Despite erroneous assertions by biofuels lobbyists, the two provisions in this year’s defense authorization bill do not restrict the Pentagon from purchasing alternative fuels. Section 313 allows the continued use of Defense funds to test biofuels but precludes the use of funds authorized for readiness and training to be used to pay excessive costs for fuel. Section 2823 simply requires the Pentagon to have a specific authorization from Congress before using $170 million in Defense funds to construct a biofuels refinery.
In reality, these provisions are intended to focus the Pentagon’s extensive development, research and testing of new energy technologies on two defense priorities: reducing fuel consumption by our weapons systems and introducing new energy-efficient equipment on the battlefield that will save lives. Both are areas strongly supported in the bill, with more than $1 billion authorized for energy-related initiatives.
With limited funds, the military must focus on readiness and modernization that is paramount to defending this nation. Creating a product that is a viable and attractive alternative for consumers and mass-producing that product is best left to the private sector. Wasting taxpayer dollars to advance the green agenda is not our military’s mission.
Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., is a senior member of the Armed Services Committee.