ThinkProgress reported in May that the House Armed Services Committee’s proposed budget also includes pet projects such as a $5 billion initiative for a House GOP provision to build an East Coast missile defense system that the military doesn’t even want.
The recent attacks on the Navy’s efforts to innovate and reduce its dependence on oil are counter to the long and historically bipartisan support for Defense Department-related energy technology innovation. The Navy’s goal of using biofuels to supply roughly half of their non-nuclear fuel needs by 2020 is part of this tradition. The Pentagon remains the world’s single-largest energy consumer (excluding nations).
Secretary Mabus argues that the Navy is ideally positioned to invest in the research, development, and deployment of advanced biofuels—something the private sector would not undertake absent significantly higher oil prices. The military’s demand for biofuels could help create the market for advanced biofuels, which will in turn bring prices down due to economies of scale.
In a recent Reuters article, Secretary Mabus points out that the “Navy has been at the forefront of energy innovation for over a hundred years … transitioning from sail, to coal, to oil and then to nuclear from the 1850s to the 1950s.” Remaining undeterred despite this recent opposition to innovation from some lawmakers, Secretary Mabus remains committed to the goals of the advanced biofuels program, stating:
Every single time there were naysayers. And every single time, every single time, those naysayers have been wrong, and they’re going to be wrong again this time.
Taking its name from President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet,” which demonstrated the might of American sea power at the beginning of the 20th century, the “Great Green Fleet” promises to demonstrate that same might in this century.