… “Obama is hiding new renewable energy bets at the Pentagon, charging our Defense Department with major investments in ‘low-emissions economic development’ while cutting their budget by $5.1 billion,” Catrina Rorke, director of energy policy at the center-right American Action Forum, wrote in a blog post following the Obama administration’s budget release last week. “New energy spending is new energy spending, no matter where it happens.”
The idea that the administration is using DOD as a more politically palatable vehicle for renewable energy investments is now reverberating across Capitol Hill, even as Pentagon officials flatly deny the allegations.
At a budget hearing last week, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, the department’s most high-profile alternative energy advocate, took volley after volley from Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee. They said that his priorities were misplaced, argued that spending on clean energy was taking money out of more important missions and hinted at a link between the Pentagon’s green efforts and the prominence of former Silicon Valley clean-tech investors within the Obama administration.
“You’re not the secretary of the energy, you’re the secretary of the Navy,” said Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), who leads the subcommittee with jurisdiction over military energy and environment issues.
Prime among the lawmakers’ complaints was that the military is paying a higher price for some forms of alternative energy at a time when DOD proposes cutting weapons programs and reducing forces in order to meet budget mandates.
“You’ve bought fuel, blended [bio]fuel for the jets to fly at almost four times the cost of traditional energy,” Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) said to Mabus, referring to the $12 million the Navy is paying for 450,000 gallons of advanced biofuel to power a carrier strike group during exercises off the coast of Hawaii this summer (Greenwire, Dec. 5, 2011). “So in order to make up for that difference, will those planes fly a quarter of the time they would have otherwise flown as part of this exercise?”…
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