By a defunding measure in the Defense Appropriations bill, our new Tea Party/GOP House has just repealed a provision in the 2007 energy bill that says federal agencies may not substitute alternative fuels that are worse for our environment than petroleum – and yes, there are worse ones: some fuels made from coal, for example, can actually emit twice the greenhouse gases of petroleum. The requirement, Section 526, was a response to Senator Inhofe’s amendment qualifying coal fuel as an “alternative fuel” back then.
However, Executive Order 13514 that President Obama signed into law in 2009 before the House changed hands – requires that all federal agencies cut their greenhouse gases by 28% by 2020, and that requires that they find cleaner alternative fuels. And no federal agency uses more fuel than the military.
That greenhouse gas reduction Executive Order is why the army and navy have been testing so many next-generation clean biofuels over the last few years, to substitute for dirty petroleum fuel as Tina Casey has covered extensively here.
But the new House Defense Appropriations Act would bar the use of federal funds for implementing Section 526, making it cheaper for the military to buy the dirtier fuel that harms the climate, which would push the military to disobey the order requiring cleaner fuels. So the defunding puts the military in a double bind and wastes all their considerable success in helping develop cleaner fuels.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the military has come out forcefully against their proposal with a terse but strongly worded statement against any such weakening of support for clean fuel legislation by exempting the use of any federal funds for implementing section 526.
“This exemption could further increase America’s reliance on non-renewable fuels. Our dependence on those types of fuels degrades our national security, negatively impacts our economy, and harms our planet. This exemption would also send a negative signal to America’s advanced biofuel industry and could result in adverse impacts to U.S. job creation, rural development efforts, and the export of world leading technology”.
This opposition is significant. The DOD is the largest user of fuel in the country. So just this one federal agency has been able to jumpstart the development of clean next generation biofuel, and has had considerable success.
President Obama no doubt was fully cognizant of this in making the executive order, of the few pieces of greenhouse gas legislation he has been able to pass and one that has had an influence on the future of clean fuel development.
The opposition to the repeal by the military is a rare win for clean energy. Stay tuned…
Susan Kraemer @Twitter
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