U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus was recently a guest contributor for UT-San Diego. His piece is fascinating and includes a historical perspective on energy use by the Navy. One of his main arguments for increasing biofuel use in the Navy is the fluctuating and rising cost of imported oil. He says that, in 1994, the US consumed almost 18 million barrels of fuel each day. China and India combined consumed almost five million barrels a day at that time. However, today, those two hugely populated nations consume about 13 million barrels daily. The ever increasing global oil demand has pushed costs higher, and is likely to continue to do so.
Secretary Mabus identified increasing fuel costs as a very significant problem in terms of the Navy’s military readiness, because being dependent on external sources for fuel is simply not a stable way of conducting operations or business. He said that, this year alone, the Navy will spend over $500 million because of fluctuating oil prices.
Even so, there has still been some resistance to advanced biofuel development in Congress, as documented several times recently on CleanTechnica. Eight new biorefineries are being funded by the USDA to help begin generating biofuels in America. In fact, on September 8th, USDA Secretary Secretary Tom Vilsack toured the USS Monterey in Norfolk, VA and said, “Developing the next generation of advanced biofuels for our nation’s military is both a national security issue and an economic issue. By utilizing renewable energy produced on American soil, our military forces will become less reliant on fuel that has to be transported long distances and often over supply lines that can be disrupted during times of conflict.”
Secretary Vilsack almost referenced the fact that investing in domestic biofuels should create jobs in rural areas where the biorefineries are located, and therefore support local economies in a time of great need. The Navy is a very large employer on its own, so if it can save money on fuel, that savings can be reinvested in meeting the needs of the sailors.
Image Credit: U.S. Navy Photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Roger S. Duncan (RELEASED)
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