May 30, 2012Victoria Glynn
May 23, 2012
A group of nine retired U.S. military generals and admirals is calling on Senate leaders to block attempts by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives to prohibit the Department of Defense from buying or using advanced biofuels if those fuels cost any more than conventional gasoline, diesel, marine and aviation fuels.
Organized as “Operation Free” within the Truman National Security Project, the group asked the Senate Armed Services Committee “to support the military as it leads the way in developing the next generation of secure, clean energy sources.”
Operation Free’s 15 May letter to committee chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, and ranking member John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, came in response to the House passing the Fiscal Year 2013 defense authorization bill on May 18. The legislation seeks to ban the use of DOD funds for purchase or production of alternative fuels if the cost exceeds that of conventional fossil fuels.
The bill would also undermine DOD support for a planned $510 million public-private partnership to scale up a domestic “drop-in” biofuels industry in which the Navy and the departments of Energy and Agriculture are to contribute equal shares, with private industry at least matching the total federal investment.
Similar measures were included in last year’s House bill but were defeated in the Democratic-controlled Senate—an outcome Operation Freedom is hoping will recur this year.
“America sends over $1 billion per day overseas for oil,” the generals and admirals wrote. “Our voracious demand for this single source of fuel ensures high oil prices in a global market, draining our economy and enabling our enemies. Every time the price of a barrel of crude oil goes up five dollars, Iran makes an additional $7.9 billion annually.”
And to those U.S. lawmakers who advocated more domestic oil and gas drilling as the best path forward, Operation Freedom countered, “We cannot drill our way out of the problem of energy security. Even if we flood the market with every drop of oil in both our proven and strategic reserves, it will not be enough to offset rising global demand. Gas prices would still remain high and OPEC would continue to set the international price of oil.”
Operation Free stressed that the Air Force and Army are increasing the fuel efficiency of the vehicles and aircraft used in combat and to transport troops and provide support. The Navy is investing in advanced biofuels programs that will enhance power-projection capability, while the Marine Corps is using wind and solar power to decrease energy vulnerability I forward operations.
“We have to find new sources of fuel. As long as the United States is beholden to global energy prices, our country is vulnerable,” the group maintained.
“It is time to secure America with clean energy. All of our civilian leaders must match the military’s commitment and stop putting partisan politics ahead of good policy. We call on Congress to support the Department of Defense as it invests in clean, domestic, alternative sources of energy for the sake of the security of the United States of America.”
The retired military officers who signed the letter were: Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, USMC; Brigadier General John Adams, U.S. Army; Lt. Gen. Don Kerrick, U.S. Army; Brigadier Gen. Keith Kerr, U.S. Army; Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, USAF; Rear Adm. Larry Baucom, U.S. Navy; Maj. Gen. Roger Blunt, U.S. Army; Rear Adm. Leendert Hering, U.S. Navy; and Maj. Gen. Paul Monroe, U.S. Army.
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