Earlier this week, a Senate subcommittee voted to continue funding for the Navy’s experimental biofuel program, cleverly dubbed the “Great Green Fleet.” As a primer, see David Roberts’ look at why the military is prioritizing a transition from fossil fuels.
As we’ve mentioned before, Republicans hate the effort, because 1) it’s got anything at all to do with the environment and 2) the Navy might spend slightly less on oil some day and that makes their friends cry. Today, the full Senate Appropriations Committee tackles the defense appropriations bill that includes the biofuels funding. The topic of biofuels will certainly come up.
Here’s what the opposition looked like earlier this year:
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) in May added an amendment to the defense authorization bill in the Senate Armed Services Committee that prevents the Navy from buying biofuels if they cost more than conventional fuel. He was incensed by the Navy decision to buy 450,000 gallons of $26-per-gallon biofuel, which it blended with petroleum for its “Great Green Fleet” aircraft carrier strike demonstration in July.
Incensed! You see, ladies and gentlemen, Sen. Inhofe is deeply committed to ensuring that the United States government not spend a single dollar that it need not spend — particularly on some weirdo, namby-pamby “alternative fuel.”
With one exception.
In 2006, Inhofe was a big booster for a company called Syntroleum, a Tulsa, Okla.-based company that converts natural gas into jet fuel. Syntroleum was granted a $2.3 million contract with the Department of Defense and provided 104,000 gallons of “gas-to-liquid” fuel to be tested in two varieties of aircraft.
That fuel cost the military between $25 and $28 per gallon. Inhofe was not incensed.
When the issue came up earlier this week, Inhofe’s spokesperson suggested that the comparison wasn’t apt — that the amount purchased from Syntroleum was smaller and used for research and development, compared to the Navy’s broader program. Also:
Promoting the biofuels program is another example of the Obama administration “advancing green energy at the taxpayer expense,” [spokesman Jared] Young said.
And there we can see Inhofe’s real motivations. First, he’s making an attack on the president in an election year. And, second, Oklahoma is a state reliant on fossil fuels. The senator has received $509,000 in contributions from the oil and gas industry so far this year.
Inhofe is perfectly happy to have fossil-fuel-based alternatives explored — just not biofuels. Leading to an uncomfortable bit of hypocrisy.