With the launch of the Navy’s ‘Great Green Fleet’ and the Pentagon’s announcement to invest $170 million in biofuel refineries, 2012 looks to be a winning year for renewable energy. Yet, this supposed victory for biofuels is just the conclusion to the first act of the long and weary standoff between Congress and the Pentagon.
Earlier this year, both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed similar measures to restrict the Pentagon from buying renewable fuels that are more expensive than traditional fossil fuels. The Senate Arms Committee decision also prohibited the Department of Defense from building biofuel refineries unless “specifically authorized by law,” which the White House was able to bypass through the Defense Production Act.
Despite the Pentagon moving ahead with the plan for biofuel usage in the military, the ruling nonetheless came as a huge blow to the Navy and Secretary Ray Mabus. Secretary Mabus had repeatedly noted that a dependence on oil as the military’s sole source of energy was a direct threat to our national security and investing in alternate energy sources like biofuels was the solution to this problem. Both houses have been less than enthusiastic about the military’s investments in the alternate sources of energy. During a hearing in February, House Armed Services Seapower subcommittee member Randy Forbes even took a direct jab at Mabus’ plan for a greener Navy, “You’re not the Secretary of the Energy. You’re the Secretary of the Navy.”
Many, including Representatives Forbes, believe that national security simply entails “having more ships, more planes, more prepositioned stocks.” However, they fail to realize that investing in biofuels will not jeopardize the Navy’s ability to equip itself with the latest technology. Biofuels are no different than the latest high tech planes, in that the Navy has deemed them as necessary investments for America’s future security.
It is only natural for Congress to critically scrutinize the actions of executive departments. Yet, some members of Congress fail to realize that a course of action supported by such a large number of the military community may in fact be what is best for the country.
Observing the military’s support for biofuels, it may just be wise to trust the military’s word that renewable energy is not only the future of military technology but also critical to our national security. ”Who would you trust with our national security, Congress or the United States military?