The Navy's "Great Green Fleet" sets sail

Okay, just to establish the lay of the land here: Ever since last summer’s embarrassment of a budget deal, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned that the pending automatic cuts to the Defense budget would be ‘disasterous.’

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta pleaded with Congress Wednesday to avoid the disaster of automatic defense cuts even as he criticized lawmakers’ affection for protecting aging ships and aircraft.

Ramping up the pressure, Panetta and Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, painted a bleak picture of the military and its power if the across-the-board reductions, known as “sequestration,” go into effect beginning Jan. 2.

The Pentagon would face cuts of about $500 billion in projected spending over 10 years on top of the $492 billion that President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans already agreed to in last summer’s deficit-cutting budget.

Dempsey said the cuts would mean fewer troops, the possible cancellation of major weapons and the disruption of operations around the world.

That definitely doesn’t sound good, and it’s infuriating that we’re going after the military’s budget (they’re only the people who keep us safe, no big deal or anything) before even trying to make a dent in our unsustainable entitlement explosion.

However, if the Pentagon is worried about being forced to operate within more limited means… why in the heck have Pentagon officials been pushing for a “green fleet” that requires biofuels that are 700% more expensive than conventional fuel?

In its tanks, the USNS Henry J. Kaiser carried nearly 900,000 gallons of biofuel blended with petroleum to power the cruisers, destroyers and fighter jets of what the Navy has taken to calling the “Great Green Fleet,” the first carrier strike group to be powered largely by alternative fuels.

Conventionally powered ships and aircraft in the strike group will burn the blend in an operational setting for the first time this month during the 22-nation Rim of the Pacific exercise, the largest annual international maritime warfare maneuvers. …

Some Republican lawmakers have seized on the fuel’s $26-a-gallon price, compared to $3.60 for conventional fuel. They paint the program as a waste of precious funds at a time when the U.S. government’s budget remains severely strained, the Pentagon is facing cuts and energy companies are finding big quantities of oil and gas in the United States.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the program’s biggest public booster, calls it vital for the military’s energy security.

Ahh yes, energy security — according to Secretary Mabus, the reason we’re doing this “is that we simply buy too many fossil fuels from either actually or potentially volatile places on earth.” …Hmmmm, I wonder how we could both lessen our energy dependence on unfriendly or unstable foreign sources, and avoid spending $26 a pop on fuel made out of chicken fat, seeds, and algae oil, while creating productive private-sector jobs and economic growth? Anyone?

And apparently, merely powering the Great Green Fleet isn’t all the Obama administration is doing to push for green energy within the military’s ranks. On Monday, they announced that they’re getting ready to drop another $62 million for two more biofule R&D programs:

The Navy, Department of Agriculture and Department of Energy (DOE) will offer $30 million in matching funds to support “drop-in” biofuel research and development, an Energy spokesman told the press Monday.

DOE also will contribute $32 million to a separate initiative for “early-stage, pre-commercial investments” in biofuel technology. …

Large-scale adoption of that substitute fuel could help reduce the use of diesel and jet fuels in military and commercial transportation operations, DOE says. Funding for the drop-in effort comes from the Defense Production Act, which aims to boost national security through fostering domestic energy production.

Again, heaven forbid that we foster domestic energy production by allowing ourselves to drill for traditional fuel sources that wouldn’t require the federal government to “invest” taxpayer money and would instead permit us to take advantage of our own already-proven resources.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on December 09, 2022