House GOP Thumbs Their Nose at the Pentagon Again

Via TPM, hidden inside the House Armed Services Committee defense budget, which the Obama Administration is now threatening to veto, is a ban on the Pentagon's biofuel research.

Earlier this week, the Republican-led committee voted to ban the Department of Defense from purchasing alternative fuels that cost more than “traditional” fossil fuels. That would eliminate several emerging biofuels that have undergone successful testing by the Air Force and Navy over the past year on aircraft and ships. [...]

Beyond the immediate effect on military operations, the House action could also throw a wrench in a major Obama Administration biofuel initiative that was designed to provide a long term economic boost to struggling rural communities.

Launched last summer, the initiative pairs USDA with the Navy and the Department of Energy in a $510 million partnership with the private sector, to develop a biofuel supply chain including research and development, growing and harvesting biofuel crops, transportation, and refining.

The Navy’s role is to be the linchpin customer, to kickstart the emergence of a mass market for biofuel.

I'll repeat it again -- the Joint Chiefs of Staff already agreed to a budget proposal outlined under the Budget Control Act (the debt-ceiling deal) which reflects reduced spending levels.

Paul Ryan accused the Chiefs of lying when they claimed they were satisfied with the new budget. Ryan later walked-back his accusation, but since then the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has continued to push for higher defense spending, essentially trying to force more money on the Pentagon than they asked for.

This is more than that, however. It's also a direct challenge to the Department of Defense's plan to "go green." A strategy developed for national security reasons, not political ones.

Are the House Republicans trying to say they know how to handle national security better than the Department of Defense?

It's no secret that technology developed under the Pentagon's green energy initiative will eventually find its way into the consumer market, and that's another obvious motivation for House Republicans, who are beholden to Big Oil, to stop it.

President Obama is threatening to veto the House bill which, as far as I can tell, is only seen as preferable to House Republicans. Senate approval of the Pentagon's budget request is a non-issue.

  • Brutlyhonest

    Repeat after me, republicans are pro-defense industry, not pro-military.

  • Draxiar

    The next time the GOTP talks about energy independence they’re obligated to endure the shower of eggs and tomatoes that we throw at them.

  • muselet

    This from the party that loudly insists that they and only they care about rural Americans and the military.

    The loss of the Navy as a ready customer would affect biofuel crop growers in the “breadbasket” states of the Midwest as well as in Arizona and Texas, both of which have been racing to establish themselves as leaders in algae biofuel production.

    A slowdown in the growth of the domestic biofuel industry will also cycle around to affect the military’s long term energy strategy. Though positioned partly as an economic development program for agricultural communities, a key goal of the rural biofuels initiative is to ensure that the domestic biofuel economy matures quickly to the point where it could supply a significant portion of the military’s liquid fuel requirements.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus has made the point numerous times over the past year that the DOD is strategically and logistically handicapped by dependency on fossil fuels to an increasing degree, whether the source is foreign or domestic.

    The lack of fuel diversification makes the military budget highly susceptible to price spikes in the global oil market, which would not be alleviated by an increase in domestic production.

    The Rs on the House Armed Services Committee are willing to hurt a fair number of people and companies in mostly-reliable Red states in order to stick a thumb in the eye of the DFHs who think we should find something else to burn. And they’re willing to risk wildly-fluctuating fuel costs and possibly reduced fuel supplies for the military.

    In a sane world, that would be electoral suicide. Alas, we do not live in a sane world.


    • mrbrink

      It’s probably my fault we don’t live in a sane world. I should have applied myself more. Sorry, world. My bad.