Administration Not Backing Off On Military Biofuels

In its latest move to spur biofuels development and use by the military, the Obama administration is using the Defense Production Act, legislation more than a half-century old that has been used to boost industries such as steel, aluminum, titanium, semiconductors, beryllium, and radiation-hardened electronics.

Navy biofuel test

image via U.S. Navy

“DPA is a critical component of strengthening our national security, and energy is a national security issue,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a statement.  “Our reliance on foreign oil is a significant military vulnerability and it would be irresponsible not to address it.  Pursuing a viable, domestic alternative is the best way to preserve the budget for operational necessities like training and shipbuilding, and this funding opportunity is an important step in accelerating an economically self-sufficient alternative fuels market.”

Along with the new military biofuels initiative, the military this week announced new investments totaling $32 million in earlier stage biofuels research. The funding includes $20 million “to support innovative pilot-scale and demonstration-scale biorefineries that could produce renewable biofuels that meet military specifications for jet fuel and shipboard diesel using a variety of non-food biomass feedstocks, waste-based materials and algae,” the DOE said.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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