Biofuel fiasco has high price
If America had a Spend Like a Drunken Sailor Award, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus would win hands-down for blowing $12 million on biofuel for Navy ships.
Even as the armed services face drastic budget cuts under automatic sequestration and other proposals undermining our national security, Mr. Mabus and President Obama clearly believe “it’s only taxpayer money.”
In fairness, Mr. Mabus‘ Great Green Fleet of ships and fighter jets performed well during recent military exercises off Hawaii, burning blends of 50 percent biofuels and 50 percent conventional fuels. But the price tag makes the fleet a poster child for wasteful government spending.
The exercises cost the Navy nearly $27 per gallon for 450,000 gallons of biofuels produced from algae, waste grease and animal fat — versus around $3.50 for standard petroleum fuels.
The only way the Navy looks good in this fiasco is in comparison to the Air Force, which spent $59 a gallon for alcohol-based jet fuel and $67 per gallon for camelina-based F-22 Raptor fuel. The Navy, however, also purchased of 20,000 gallons of renewable diesel fuel in 2009 for $424 a gallon.
If Mr. Mabus achieves his goal and persuades the Navy to make half of its fuel “green” by 2020, the higher-cost biofuels could add $1.9 billion annually to Navy’s fuel bill, according to a Defense Department study. That extra outlay would pay for a new DDG-51 destroyer and comes as the Defense Department budget faces $13 billion in cuts for Navy shipbuilding over the next four years.