Propping up the Green Industry via the Military
A few news sources this week reported on the Navy’s purchase of 450,000 gallons of biofuel. Under the leadership of Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the Navy purchased the biofuel which is billed as an alternate to jet fuel (JP-5/8) for $12 Million. The actual contract announcement is here: http://www.defense.gov/contracts/contract.aspx?contractid=4674
The biofuel industry has struggled within the United States and elsewhere because it is simply not cost effective and therefore doomed to failure within the free market. With this contract the Navy is paying $26 a gallon for this jet fuel alternative. The cost of regular JP-5/8 is $3.97. Secretary Mabus is attempting to assure people that once the biofuel industry is performing at optimal conditions the price per gallon will come down. That may well be true but a joint Navy/MIT study found that even under these optimum conditions the price of biofuel will still be twice as expensive as regular JP-5/8 and the “optimum conditions,” are not even close to being reality. http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/65796
The biofuel industry is yet another segment of the larger green industry that is impractical and doomed to failure without government help. Secretary Mabus has been pursuing his vision of a “Green Fleet,” which appears to be nothing more than a way to use defense spending to prop up green industries. In light of the recent failure of the super-committee and defense sequestration this entire notion of a “Green Fleet” is bordering on insanity. Defense spending should not be used to prop up these impractical industries that are near and dear to Obama Administration.
I know a thing or two about military aircraft and fuel consumption within these aircraft as I fly the AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter for the National Guard. These military aircraft, be it fixed-wing or rotor-wing, absolutely guzzle fuel. High performance machines tend to do that, just think about a Ferrari. JP-8 weighs 6.7 lbs per gallon and when I conduct fuel checks during flight, the Apache normally burns about a 1,000 lbs of fuel an hour on average. Depending on the weight of the aircraft, atmospheric conditions and the type of mission being conducted, that number can vary by about 200 lbs and hour. If you do the math there, with biofuel at the prices the Navy just paid, my aircraft is consuming $3,880 of fuel an hour on average. Compare that to $591 an hour with regular JP-8. It is completely irrational that anyone would choose biofuel and force military aviation to pay that increased cost.
Within Congress the big question is how to stop defense sequestration from occuring in 2013. The other question is if sequestration cannot be reversed or if it is merely limited, what military programs are going to be cut? The biggest target as of now is the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. I would suggest that the Green Fleet and Secretary Mabus’ job should be number one on the chopping block. $12 million and 450,000 gallons of fuel is a small number in terms of the Navy’s fuel requirements and costs. However, it is indicitive of the overall wasteful government spending that is occuring in the name of “green energy.”
In closing, why not authorize the Keystone Pipeline; create thousands of jobs; acquire 700,000 barrels of oil per day from an ally, friend and neighbor; protect national security; and stop sending billions of dollars overseas to people who use a portion of that money to fund people who want to kill us?