The US Defense Department consumes more energy than any other department or sector in the country, spending around $20 billion annually by some estimates; but ambitious plans to make it the nation’s green leader have been swept under the rug over budgetary concerns that smack of campaign politics.
It is an inauspicious development for US energy independence, and indeed a contradictory one. The Defense Department is reeling under higher fuel costs already, which have left it short some $3 billion. A stronger focus on alternative fuels will cost more in the immediate and near-term, but in the longer-term, it is a smarter strategy.
Last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee in a vote dampened the military’s green ambitions, refusing to allow a major shift to alternative fuels if they end up costing more than fossil fuels. They have also nixed the idea of the Pentagon building its own biofuels refinery or other biofuels facilities.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is largely divided right down the middle, as demonstrated by the 13-12 vote in favor of putting the brakes on green defense efforts.