Navy Biofuel Program Goes Full Steam Ahead With Four New Pilot Projects
April 26, 2013 Tina Casey
Last year certain members of Congress waged an all-out war against the Navy’s ambitious biofuel initiatives, supposedly because they were too expensive. Fast-forward another year and the Navy biofuel program is still going full steam ahead, even though those same members are still trying to stomp it down. In the latest development, another $18 million in matching funds has just been announced for four new pilot projects. Funny thing is, this time around there’s been a minimum of grandstanding over the votes. Why could that be, we wonder.
Navy Biofuel From Non-Food Feedstocks
The four new projects all follow the same Obama Administration pattern of focusing on biofuel feedstocks that don’t involve food for humans or livestock. As an added sustainability bonus, these next-generation feedstocks generally don’t take up land that could be used for food crops, either.
That includes switchgrass and other woody plants that can thrive on land that’s unsuitable for other crops, as well as municipal waste and other forms of refuse, and algae.
A United Biofuel Front
The four new projects also follow the Obama Administration pattern of enlisting other federal agencies, namely the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture, to the biofuel front lines whenever Congress maneuvers against the Navy.
Last year, the naysayers in Congress (Okay, so Republican leadership. There, I said it.) took the tack of prohibiting the Navy from purchasing any fuel that is more expensive than conventional fuel, effectively ruling out biofuel.
In response, the Obama Administration used its powers under the decades-old Defense Production Act and other pipelines to authorize funds for private companies to build pilot projects and commercial-scale facilities. The end goal is to help jumpstart a cost-competitive U.S. biofuel industry, and