RAND: Alternative fuels no help to military

From the RAND Corp:

FOR RELEASE
Tuesday
January 25, 2011

If the U.S. military increases its use of alternative fuels, there will be no direct benefit to the nation’s armed forces, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Any benefits from investment in alternative fuels by the U.S. Department of Defense will accrue to the nation as a whole rather than to mission-specific needs of the military, researchers found. The study is based on an examination of alternative jet and naval fuels that can be produced from coal or various renewable resources, including seed oils, waste oils, and algae.

In response to a congressional directive for a study on alternative and synthetic fuels, the U.S. Department of Defense asked RAND to analyze whether alternative fuels can meet the needs of the nation’s military in a climate-friendly and affordable manner. RAND also was asked to examine the goals and progress of the efforts of the Army, Navy and Air Force in supporting the development of alternative fuel production technology, and in testing and certifying alternative fuels for military applications.

“To realize the national benefits of alternative fuels, the military needs to reassess where it is placing its emphasis in both fuel testing and technology development,” said James Bartis, lead author of the study and a senior policy researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “Too much emphasis is focused on seed-derived oils that displace food production, have very limited production potential and may cause greenhouse gas emissions well above those of conventional petroleum fuels.”

The military also has invested in advanced technology to produce jet fuel from algae-derived oils. According to the study, algae-derived fuel is a research topic and not an emerging option that the military can use to supply its operations.

From the perspective of technical viability, a number of alternative fuels can meet military fuel requirements. But uncertainties remain regarding their commercial viability—namely, how much these fuels will cost and what effect they may have on the environment, particularly in terms of greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Department of Defense consumes more fuel than any other federal agency, but military fuel demand is only a very small fraction of civilian demand, and civilian demand is what drives competition, innovation, and production,” Bartis said. “Further, we found that testing and certification efforts by the military services are far outpacing commercial development.”

Researchers concluded it makes more sense for the military to direct its efforts toward using energy more efficiently. Providing war fighters with more energy-efficient equipment such as aircraft or combat vehicles improves operational effectiveness, saves money and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

The RAND study found that Fischer-Tropsch fuels—alternative fuels produced via an updated version of a process used by Germany during World War II—are the most promising option for affordably and cleanly meeting specifications for military fuels. Environmentally sound production requires that carbon dioxide emissions at the production plant be captured and sequestered. With carbon dioxide capture, the study finds that Fischer-Tropsch fuels derived from a mixture of coal and biomass can have lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions that are less than half of those of petroleum-derived fuels.

Most of the defense department’s efforts in alternative fuel development are geared toward proving technical viability rather than establishing a process that yields demonstrating affordable and environmentally sound production. The latter two components are notoriously hard to accomplish, as evidenced by the length of the Department of Energy’s efforts in fuel cell and solar photovoltaic technology development.

The study’s recommendations include:

  • The Department of Defense should complete testing and certification of Fischer-Tropsch liquids for use in 50/50 fuel blends, but testing at higher concentrations is not appropriate considering the very limited commercial production anticipated over at least the next decade.
  • Minimize resources directed at testing and certification of hydrotreated renewable oils, including oils derived from seed crops (e.g., camelina) and algae. Testing and certifying these fuels in high-performance propulsion systems used by the military is simply not on the critical path for resolving the uncertainties associated with these fuels.
  • Considering the absence of military benefits, the Department of Defense and Congress should reconsider whether defense appropriations should continue to support the development of advanced alternative fuel technologies.
  • If the Department of Defense is to continue to support alternative fuels, its role and the Department of Energy’s role need to be clarified.
  • For technical, logistical, and security reasons, research directed at advanced concepts for forward-based production of energy should focus on electric power as opposed to specification-grade military fuels for use in weapon systems.

The study, “Alternative Fuels for Military Applications,” can be found at www.rand.org. The study was co-authored by Lawrence Van Bibber.

Research for this report was sponsored by the Defense Logistics Agency-Energy and was conducted within the Acquisition and Technology Policy Center of the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the Unified Combatant Commands, the Navy, the Marine Corps, the defense agencies, and the defense Intelligence Community.

Simpson right on Agent Orange

By Steve Milloy
September 2, 2010, The Hill

White House fiscal commission member Sen. Alan Simpson is drawing fire from veterans groups for objecting to the Obama administration decision to expand Agent Orange benefits to Vietnam vets. Simpson is right and the vets wrong.

The Obama administration wants to expand medical benefits for Vietnam vets by $42 billion over the next 10 years by permitting disability awards to vets who contract heart disease. The underlying assumption is that Agent Orange causes all heart disease in Vietnam vets.

The problem, though, is that assumption is not supported by any available facts and science.

As pointed out by Dr. Michael Gough, the chairman of the federal panel charged with investigating the potential health impacts of Agent Orange use, “[The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] found that few, if any, ground troops in Vietnam had been exposed to Agent Orange. The Air Force’s Operation Ranch Hand sprayed 90 percent of the Agent Orange used in Vietnam. There is no difference in the health of the Ranch Hands, the only veterans known to have been exposed, and that of other veterans who served in Southeast Asia at the same time and flew the same kinds of airplanes but were not exposed to Agent Orange.”

Sen. Simpson, of course, already knows this since Dr. Gough made the foregoing statement before the Senator in 1996 when he chaired the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs.

More recently, Air Force researchers concluded in 2006 in the journal Organohalogen Compounds that “cardiovascular disease [among the Air Force personnel] does not appear to be associated with [Agent Orange] exposure.”

Accordingly, it is absurd to expect taxpayers to shell out so much money without giving them facts that justify the expense.

Americans, including Sen. Simpson, honor the service of veterans and are willing to go to extended lengths to help them — that’s why the vets get any compensation for Agent Orange at all. There really is no firm science indicating that any vet has ever suffered from Agent Orange exposure; yet we have historically given vets the benefit of the doubt because we honor their service.

But a cash-strapped government can no longer afford to be so generous without good reason.

Our commitment to veterans is sacred, but it is not a suicide pact to open the floodgates of the nation’s coffers indefinitely.

Steve Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is the author of “Green Hell: How Environmentalists Plan to Control Your Life and What You Can Do to Stop Them.”

FT calls Copenhagen Accord ‘dismal’, ‘fiasco’

Here’s the Copenhagen Accord.

The Financial Times blasted the non-agreement in today’s lead editorial, entitled “Dismal Outcome at Copenhagen Fiasco”:

An empty deal would be worse than no deal at all, said the White House before Mr Obama travelled to the Copenhagen summit. As the meeting ended, Barack Obama was calling the Copenhagen accord – the emptiest deal one could imagine, short of a fist fight – an “important breakthrough”. Mr Obama’s credibility at home and abroad is one casualty of this farcical outcome.

The agreement cobbled together by the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa is merely an expression of aims. It recognises the scientific case for keeping the rise in global temperatures to 2°C. It calls on developed countries to provide $100bn a year in support of poor nations’ efforts by 2020, but without saying who pays what to whom. It appears to commit none of the signatories to anything.

Many developing countries were bitter about this result. Europe may wonder why it has been airbrushed out of the picture. The meeting as a whole could not bring itself to endorse this vacuous proclamation. It took note of it.

One wonders how a conference to conclude two years of detailed negotiations, building on more than a decade of previous talks, could have collapsed into such a shambles. It is as though no preparatory work had been done. Consensus on the most basic issues was lacking. Were countries there to negotiate binding limits on emissions or not? Nobody seemed to know.

From the start, the disarray was total. In this, at least, the attention to detail was impressive. The organisers invited more people to the event than could be accommodated, and were puzzled when they arrived. Delegates queued in the freezing cold for hours, a scene that summed it all up. The organisers had planned a celebration of a grand new global pact – but the party was a disaster and they forgot to bring the agreement.

Governments need to understand, even if they cannot say so, that Copenhagen was worse than useless. If you draw the world’s attention to an event of this kind, you have to deliver, otherwise the political impetus is lost. To declare what everybody knows to be a failure a success is feeble, and makes matters worse. Loss of momentum is now the danger. In future, governments must observe the golden rule of international co-operation: agree first, arrange celebrations and photo opportunities later…

New York Syndrome?

According to this report in The Guardian, the UN is planning to engage in psychological warfare on heads of state attending the climate summit in New York this week.

The UN plans to separate leaders of developed countries from their staff and then isolate the leaders in discussion groups and lunches with the leaders of poor nations seeking climate handouts, rent-seeking CEOs and green groups.

The ostensible purpose of the planned “shock therapy”, as the UN calls it, is to “imbue” the leaders with a “new sense of purpose” with respect to fighting the much-dreaded global warming.

At face value, the UN apparently aims to generate a sort of Stockholm Syndrome — where hostages develop sympathy for their captors — among leaders of the developed world. But this can’t be true Stockholm Syndrome, of course, since all the developed world leaders are already pretty much in the tank for global warming alarmism and no major psychological shifts will occur.

Rather, the UN seems to hope that this exercise will light a fire under President Obama so that he pushes harder toward the global economic suicide that carbon caps represent. Remember that the goal of an international carbon regime is to hamstring the U.S. economy and to ensnare the U.S. in global governance.

I sense a new Wikipedia entry coming:

New York syndrome is a psychological response hoped for by global warming alarmists, in which a socialist U.S. President is pressured to advocate more intensely for international socialism, regardless of the global-economic-destruction-for-no-environmental-gain that is likely to occur.

Unexpected admission from the OECD

ClimateWire reports that a new paper by economists at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says that:

… if OECD countries acted alone on climate, containing global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels — the benchmark expected in Copenhagen — would be impossible.

So even if you believe in the global warming alarmist fairy tale, since India and China have vowed not to cut emissions at the expense of growth, nothing will be achieved by the developed world committing economic hara-kiri over CO2.

NAS: International CO2 limits unenforceable

This July 28 letter from the National Academy of Sciences says that there is no existing way to monitor CO2 emissions around the world — meaning that there would be no way to verify that countries around the world are complying with emissions limits that may be set by international treaty.

Of course, monitoring and verification are just the first steps of enforcement. How would anyone actually compel China, India, Mexico, Russia and the rest of the developing world to comply with limits on emitting greenhouse gases?

Would the UN invade? Would Wal-Mart be forced to stop buying Chinese? What about the sort of international sanctions that have worked so well with Iran and North Korea? A beer summit? What?

India rejects global warming junk science

From the Financial Times:

A split between rich and poor nations in the run-up to climate-change talks widened on Thursday.

India rejected key scientific findings on global warming, while the European Union called for more action by developing states on greenhouse gas emissions.

Jairam Ramesh, the Indian environment minister, accused the developed world of needlessly raising alarm over melting Himalayan glaciers.

He dismissed scientists’ predictions that Himalayan glaciers might disappear within 40 years as a result of global warming.

“We have to get out of the preconceived notion, which is based on western media, and invest our scientific research and other capacities to study Himalayan atmosphere,” he said.

I guess Hillary Clinton’s “Ugly American” routine set them off…

Enviros sap military: Mission = green?

Move over national defense, being green is now part of the U.S. military’s mission.

Tad Davis, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for environment, safety amd occupational health told ClimateWire that,

“What we can’t allow us to become is a bunch of well-meaning, well-intended, well-educated environmental folks sitting around the fireplace singing ‘Kumbaya,'” he said. “If we are really going to be successful, it has to be embedded in our mission.”

But according to ClimateWire,

… many officers will want solid proof that “greener” fuels and equipment are reliable and perform just as well. Glenn Schmitt, environmental director at a Navy fleet fuel depot on Puget Sound, got a waiver to go back to jet fuel when he realized that biodiesel was clogging his engine filters, for example…

You can almost hear the battlefield conversation:

Tank commander: Put this thing in gear and let’s get out of here!

Tank driver: I can’t sir. It’s stuck in carbon neutral!

Shouldn’t the military just focus on its core mission — which is already difficult enough — without worrying about solving imaginary problems that have costly and performance hampering solutions?

Besides, Al Gore doesn’t worry about his carbon footprint, so why should Sgt. Fury?

C'mon men. Charge... but no footprints!
C'mon men. Charge... but no footprints!

Enviros sap military: Mission = green?

Move over national defense, being green is now part of the U.S. military’s mission.

Tad Davis, the deputy assistant secretary of the Army for environment, safety amd occupational health told ClimateWire that,

“What we can’t allow us to become is a bunch of well-meaning, well-intended, well-educated environmental folks sitting around the fireplace singing ‘Kumbaya,'” he said. “If we are really going to be successful, it has to be embedded in our mission.”

But according to ClimateWire,

… many officers will want solid proof that “greener” fuels and equipment are reliable and perform just as well. Glenn Schmitt, environmental director at a Navy fleet fuel depot on Puget Sound, got a waiver to go back to jet fuel when he realized that biodiesel was clogging his engine filters, for example…

You can almost hear the battlefield conversation:

Tank commander: Put this thing in gear and let’s get out of here!

Tank driver: I can’t sir. It’s stuck in carbon neutral!

Shouldn’t the military just focus on its core mission — which is already difficult enough — without worrying about solving imaginary problems that have costly and performance hampering solutions?

Besides, Al Gore doesn’t worry about his carbon footprint, so why should Sgt. Fury?

C'mon men. Charge... but no footprints!
C'mon men. Charge... but no footprints!

Vets join vet-haters for Waxman-Markey?

Some deluded military veterans are lobbying for Waxman-Markey, apparently trying to convince politicians and voters that climate change represents some sort of national security issue.

Iraq/Afghanistan vet Rep. John Boccieri (R-OH), former Virgina Republican Sen. John Warner, VoteVets.org and the Truman National Security Project reportedly are trying to put national security at the “center of the climate change debate,” according to ClimateWire.

This effort is absurd for at least three main reasons.

First, Waxman-Markey will have no impact on global climate — even alarmist-in-chief James Hansen admits that. So whatever national security issues may be presented at some far-off time by droughts, rising sea-levels, etc., they will not be avoided by this bill.

Next, it’s hard to see how making energy more expensive and weakening our economy will make us more economically or militarily secure. Military spending is a tremendous drain on the economy — remember the Soviet Union? — and only a wealthy nation can have both guns and butter.

Finally, for those worried about our dependence on foreign oil, it’s not clear how enacting an anti-coal bill will solve that problem. It would seem that if you want us to move away from gasoline-powered cars and toward electric cars, for example, we’re going to need to burn coal to get there. Coal can also be converted into liquid fuel.

Beyond these reasons, why would vets decide to team up with the greens who, for the most part, tend to be military-hating left-wingers? How many U.S. soldiers were killed and wounded thanks to the Left’s Vietnam and Iraq war protests that only encouraged our enemies?