The head of the Institute for Energy Research today beseeched congressional leaders to investigate Navy Secretary Ray Mabus’ decision to conduct test exercises using expensive alternative fuels this summer.
Thomas Pyle, president of the industry-funded IER, said the move shows “the Obama administration is squandering limited national defense dollars on a political agenda.”
“With huge reductions in resources for national defense already under way, wasting taxpayer money on biofuels costing ten times as much as conventional fuels makes no sense,” Pyle said in a letter to the heads of the House and Senate oversight and defense committees.
Pyle’s letter comes amid heavy congressional criticism of the planned Naval “green fleet” test exercises, set to begin with an aircraft carrier and other vessels later this month in the Pacific Rim.
In preparation for the carrier strike test, the Navy spent $12 million buying 450,000 gallons of alternative fuels. That works out to just under $27 per gallon, but as noted by Reuters, the final cost is about $15 per gallon after blended 50-50 with petroleum.
Such alternative fuel purchases would be banned in the future under legislation that passed the House of Representatives earlier this year as part of a Department of Defense authorization bill. That measure would bar the Defense Department from buying biofuels that cost more than conventional fuel.
For the biofuels industry, Mabus’ plans to wean the Navy off conventional supplies create a potentially lucrative marketplace, powering the Pentagon’s ships, planes and tanks. Supporters note that while the cost of advanced biofuels may be high now, those would drop along with a ramp up in production and demand.