Navy Pisses Off GOP Politicians With $210 Million Biofuel Purchase


The United States Navy is the single largest purchaser of diesel fuel in the world, and it is no wonder why; have you ever seen a Nimitz-class supercarrier in person? It’s friggin’ huge. So it is no wonder that the Navy wants to explore homegrown alternatives to the foreign oil that it uses right now. A recent $210 million biofuel purchase by the Navy to three U.S.-based refining operations has pissed off some members of the Republican party who still think we’re sitting on an unlimited and uninterrupted supply of oil.

A Little Cash Buys A Lot Of Green Gas

I probably don’t have to remind you that the United States has far and away the largest and most technologically advanced Navy in the history of the world. Some of these ships, like the aforementioned Nimitz-class supercarrier, are actually powered by mini nuke reactors. However, many support ships like Arleigh Burke-class destroyers are powered by gas or diesel turbines, not to mention that all of our tanks, HUMVEE’s, and even FOB’s (forward operating bases).

So, keeping in mind that the U.S. defense budget for the fiscal year 2013 will be about $614 BILLION, doesn’t it seem odd that GOP lawmakers would single out a $210 million purchase order for experimental fuels? No, not really; the GOP has consistently proved itself to be anti-science, out of touch, penny wise but pound foolish. The Navy initially purchased just 450,000 gallons of alternative jet fuels at a cost of $12 million; obviously the results were impressive enough that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus felt it was time to scale up production.

Yes, $27 a gallon for experimental biofuels is a lot of money; however, the Navy has already proven the effectiveness of these homegrown, sustainable fuels, mixing it with JP-8 (the standard military fuel), bringing the effective cost closer to $15 a gallon. A large order like this will allow the three selected refiners to scale up production, producing at least 10 million gallons of biofuel annually while seriously cutting down on costs.

The Future Of Fuel, Or GOP Folly?

GOP lawmakers have tried to reign in these biofuel purchases with provisions and bills that would limit the Department of Defense to only purchasing biofuels that cost the same as petroleum. Talk about shortsighted. The Pentagon has taken the lead in numerous projects like the Internet and GPS, which eventually filtered their way into regular consumers hands. But these projects required significant investment early on, and not every project pans out. Yet companies like OriginOil have already developed sustainable alternatives that could use our established refining infrastructure.

Yet I think there is no greater need in the coming decades than sustainable, domestically-produced fuel. Though it isn’t in the news as much these, war with Iran could double oil prices overnight and it is still a very real threat. And what if Iran isn’t alone? Venezuela is a close ally of Iran, as well as a huge exporter of oil to the U.S. and Mexico, another major supplier of oil to the U.S., is in many ways embroiled in a civil war against well-armed and well-organized drug gangs. It’s a scary thought, and in order to avoid that nightmare scenario, the U.S. government has an obligation to help develop useful alternatives, cost be damned.

If we can afford to pay $150 million for each F-22 Raptor, a plane that has been plagued by serious issues since its inception, then we can afford $210 million to help develop an alternative fuel that everybody one day might use.

Source: Reuters

About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he’s running, because he’s one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.

  • george

    I thought the Nimitz-class supercarrier was Nuclear powered and the emergency generators were diesel powered.

    • T Adkins

      The article does mention that the Nimitz-class is nuclear, but it is also a floating airport and those planes are not nuclear. A super carrier is also part of a battle group, with many support ships and many of those are far too small to run current Navy nuclear power plants.


    • vetcl

      Think deeper and longer.

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  • Jeo

    They are right … $27 a gallon is ridiculous. At a time when we borrow nearly every penny to pay for the Federal Government, we don’t need the military spending foolishly.

    • vetcl

      Nope, the price will go down as biofuel is used more and production is increased. Don’t bother with the food crop excuse either, as that’s changed to nonfood crop biofuels more and more.
      And fuel/energy security is a pressing concern. You’re right, we don’t need any foolish spending – that’s why biofuels make more sense than fossil fuels from nations that can embargo US.

      Next exception ?

  • MIke

    Jeo you’re a pinhead!

    • Jeo

      Trust me on this … your personal insult says more about you than me.

      • vetcl

        I trust no posters nor posers on the net, neither the insulters nor the insultees. And Mint Robme wants his line back.

  • Unless they want to be totally dependent on just regular oil, they’ll have to bite the bullet and pay high prices for biofools to build out the infrastructure and lower prices in the long run. That would soften the effects of oil price volatility but remember that it still takes oil to make biofuels…


    • vetcl

      Remember your claim about how it’s made is only just a claim.

  • ASG

    Why is it that the military understands that if we have to fight for oil, it might be worth investing in a non-oil based fuel that we don’t have to fight for? Energy security does not equal cheap gas prices – at the pump or at the aircraft carrier. In a not too distant future our ‘allies’ won’t be so eager to sell us oil at any price as they start shutting down their pumps. The US Navy does not turn on a dime, and neither does their infrastructure for fueling our fighting force. We need to invest in these technologies to ensure that our military remains mighty as our global oil resources deplete. Politicians only look to the next election which is why our debt/deficit problem continues to grow….

    • vetcl

      Bean counter mentality and cost-benefit exercises fail in the long run. The current trend is for biofuel costs to decrease. And the more that’s made and used, the more the price will decrease.

  • douglas prince

    NO, no, no! We don’t need more biofuels! We just need to invade more countries and take their oil and stuff.

    As Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon would say, “All ya’s gotta do is go out and kill all the curry-suckers. Then take their oil and bring it back home. It can’t be any easier, especially since I’m too old to go to war. And don’t forgit to send those tax dollars back to my congressional district, and my district, alone! YEEE-Haaaaarrrr!!”

    • vetcl

      Blood and treasurrrrre! aRrrrghhh! War! What CONs think it’s good for: money absolutely!

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  • vetcl

    Of course CONmen hate it ! And likewise their puppet masters are seething as well. All their money is wasted on RepugnantCONs that can’t block enough .

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