Afghanistan’s $43 Million Gas Station is Probably OK



The intertubes are a-buzzin’ with news about a new, super-expensive gas station in Afghanistan. To be clear, however, the gas station in question is actually a $43 million refueling station for CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles, and not a gas station for conventional gasmobiles. As reported by our friends over at Vice, the Pentagon chewed through $43 million, almost none of which has been fully accounted for, to provide a few CNG vehicle drivers in Afghanistan with “the world’s most expensive gas station.”

$43 million sounds like a big number, sure, but the price tag might not come as much of a shock to those of you following the Pentagon’s increasingly fraught relationship with fossil fuels.

Back in 2009, a group of generals brought Congress up to date on the reality of a $400 per gallon price tag for fuel shipped to war zones, and since then military officials have tried — and mostly, failed — to draw public attention to the hundreds of avoidable casualties involved in fuel transportation for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Even so, battlefield casualties only tell part of the story. In 2012, CleanTechnica sat down with former Army Captain Jon Gensler, who described what happens to small communities here at home that lose their future civic leaders, when their “best and brightest” are killed defending fuel convoys overseas. You can catch the full picture in the new documentary The Burden, and in other Gas 2 articles like this one.

The moral and mortal consequences of fossil fuel dependency, along with the impacts of climate change and oil price spikes on military resources and global economic stability, have propelled the US armed services to the forefront of renewable energy adoption. In addition to integrating off-the-shelf technology into the field, the Defense Department’s various science offices in the Navy and Air Force are funding a good chunk of the cutting edge solar R&D covered by our sister site, CleanTechnica.

The military’s need for a tactical edge has been the driving force behind major fuel transitions throughout US history, from raw horsepower and wood to coal to oil, and now to renewable electricity. Aside from blips like the aforementioned gas station, veteran-supported projects like Envision’s portable EV charging stations are one of the many reasons why oil dependency needs to hurry up and take its place in the past.


Originally published by Cleantechnica.

About the Author

Tina writes frequently for CleanTechnica and other websites, with a focus on military, government and corporate sustainability, clean tech research and emerging energy technologies. She is a former Deputy Director of Public Affairs of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, and author of books and articles on recycling and other conservation themes. She is currently Deputy Director of Public Information for the County of Union, New Jersey. Views expressed here are her own and do not necessarily reflect agency policy.

  • Nov 2, 2015 The U.S. Paid For ‘World’s Most Expensive Gas Station’ In Afghanistan

    “DOD charged the American taxpayer $43 million for what is likely the world’s most expensive gas station.”

  • Joe Viocoe

    This comes from the same rhetoric filled biased accounting that caused this:


    Each Volt cost taxpayers more than $250,000 in subsidies


    Oversimplified math can make federal subsidies for the Volt seem expensive

    The source of the claim that each Volt costs taxpayers $250,000 in subsidies is James Hohman of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a conservative think tank that has received money from fossil fuel interests. The estimate, which Hohman conceded was “simple math,” included state and federal subsidies “via tax credits and direct funding for not only General Motors, but other companies supplying parts for the vehicle.” It also included subsidies that the companies haven’t yet received. Hohman divided that total by 6,000 — the number of Volts sold at the time.

    Writing for, Anton Wahlman — who said he is “totally opposed to government subsidies” — stated that “there is a fundamental flaw behind the math in this ‘report’ that discredits the entire report straight down to zero, in my view.” From his post:

    Here is the point: Why divide whatever amount — $1.5 billion or otherwise — by the number of Chevrolet Volts sold to date? If he had done this study one year from now, when we could be looking at 60,000 Volts made, as GM repeatedly has promised, the headline number would be $25,000 per car– not $250,000. You would divide the $1.5 billion by 60,000 instead of 6,000.

    But why stop at a year from now? This investment in automotive propulsion technology is meant to be refined and influence generations of cars for decades. Some part of GM’s Voltec architecture and techniques will drive sales of approximately 60 million cars over the next 25 years or so, in any reasonable estimation.

    Essentially, stupid people trying to make grandiose points just use simple division and assume that all investments don’t ever have returns.

    There is a lot more for these millions than the rhetoric wants you to think.

    • suomunon

      Whatever “logic” you use to support this monumental fraud it all boils down to: Why are U.S. taxpayers paying for a fuel dispensing facility in Afghanistan? Is the U.S. Military using this facility to refuel their vehicles?

      So, I am one of the stupid people that is trying to understand how an $43 Million investment in for a refueling facility in Afghanistan is going to return my tax dollars to help my country and fellow tax payers.

      • Joe Viocoe

        The point is, that it’s NOT a $43 million investment for a gas station. But part of the larger Global War on Terrorism investment. That millions of Americans were all to eager to pay at any price after 9/11.

        • suomunon

          This shot (investment) towards the Global War on Terrorism was a misfire! Mr. Viocoe, not all of the American people are stupid and/or ignorant, although we seem to have more than our fair share, but a lot do understand that $43 million for this gas station did not even come close to the desired effect. I venture to guess that most of the money is now languishing in banks accounts in Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Etc.

          We (Americans) do understand the effects of war and leaving the battle zone stripped bare and the victorious combatants marching off without a glance back does breed resentment and, worse, hatred, which is the major reason we stayed and helped Japan, Germany, and our Allies rebuild after WWII.

          The point is, that monumental waste and uncontrolled disbursement of monies does not make the victims of war become our friends or stop terrorism. It generates contempt for Americans who carelessly and arrogantly throw money around that does not trickle down to the needy.

          • Joe Viocoe

            We Americans didn’t speak up loudly enough about the consequences of declaring a global war. We seemed to get caught up in “never forget” and “united we stand” bumper sticker fervor.

            Once again, the $43 million was for MUCH MUCH MORE than a single gas station. Just as in my original example the $1.5 Billion wasn’t just for 6,000 cars.
            Who ever is doing that kind of math has an agenda which relies on ignorance and laziness of the reader. People gobble up these lies because it feeds into their preconceptions of government waste. So accepting of falsehoods, nobody researches the real budget.

            Also, i agree that this one gas station by itself may be a misfire. But don’t assume the entire $43 Million is all gone. A network of fueling stations, and associated infrastructure isn’t cheap, but could have been allocated for the future (just as subsequent Volt production and other models using the Voltec R&D).
            So the math isn’t settled for years.
            And fueling infrastructure is designed to benefit all classes… Not just the rich, but needy too, as transportation is crucial to all levels and corners of the economy.

          • suomunon

            You kind of hop all over the place. You talk about electric cars, the money isn’t gone, helping all [economic] classes, Etc.. Let’s just stick to the gas station…Where is this facility?Kabul? Kandahar? How many more refueling stations are planned and when and where will they be constructed? Will the additional stations be built with the initial $43 million or do we pump (pun intended) more money into program?

            Why did the intellectual superpowers pick a gas station as a post war economic recovery vehicle for the seed money? Why not something that would give the economy a jump start from the bottom of the economic ladder? A lot of progressive liberals like to make disparaging comments about the trickle down economic theory, yet here they are starting at the top.

            If the math won’t be settled for years that sounds a lot like Pelosi saying “we have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it” .

          • Joe Viocoe

            Those are all good questions… Questions that weren’t even asked by the person who claims that $43 million were spent only on the one station.
            Instead, it seems derived solely for the shock value.

  • This is ridiculous waste.