The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

House Armed Services Committee Proposes Ban on Biofuels

Just one month before the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in Hawaii, the world's largest international maritime exercise, the biofuels industry has encountered a possible roadblock. The House Armed Services Committee issued its report on next year's Pentagon budget, which inclues a measure that would exclude the development and purchase of biofuels that cost more than traditional fossil fuels.

The exclusions, however, do not eliminate all alternative fuels. Congressmen also recommended the exemption of the Defense Department from previous restrictions that prevent federal agencies from buying fuels that are more polluting than conventional fossil fuels. This would allow the military to use the Fischer-Tropsch method, which generates gas to liquid fuel from coal and natural gas — and also emits more carbon than burning refined crude oil.

The House is beginning deliberations on the Pentagon Budget Bill, H.R. 4310, today. The White House has issued a veto threat for the bill as it stands in a memo that states it "would further increase American reliance on fossil fuels, thereby contributing to geopolitical instability and endangering our interests abroad."

The U.S. military has been a major supporter in the advancement of the biofuels industry, and the Navy plans to unveil its “Green Strike Force” at this year’s RIMPAC. It purchased 450,000 gallons of cooking oil- and algae-based drop-in biofuel for jets and vessels in a contract with Dynamic Fuels to prepare for the exercise. This purchase was seen as a sign of dropping costs for biofuels, and bolstered the industry to keep moving. The biofuels will be mixed in a 50/50 blend for the exercise, which costs around $15 per gallon, and the Navy hopes to achieve a full-scale deployment in 2016. 

The Navy has also pledged to use 50 percent alternative fuels by 2020 — a goal that could be hindered from this proposal as it is unlikely that costs will equate to fossil fuels in the near future.

The Committee argues that with a shrinking defense budget, military focus should be on creating more vessels, supplies, and other necessities, rather than dumping money into a new, expensive industry.

“I understand that alternative fuels may help our guys in the field, but wouldn’t you agree that the thing they’d be more concerned about is having more ships, more planes, more prepositioned stocks,” said Rep. Randy Forbes during a February hearing with Navy secretary Ray Mabus. “Shouldn’t we refocus our priorities and make those things our priorities instead of advancing a biofuels market?”

Mabus countered that if we don’t have a domestic supply of fuel, it would leave us vulnerable and we wouldn’t be able to power our vessels and other equipment. 

“We simply buy too much fossil fuels from places that are either actually or potentially volatile, from places that may or may not have our best interests at heart,” Mabus told the Senate Subcommittee on Water and Power in March. “We would never let these places build our ships, our aircraft, our ground vehicles, but we do give them a say on whether those ships steam, aircraft fly, or ground vehicles operate because we buy so much energy from them.”

Mabus also noted that each time the price of oil goes up by one dollar per barrel, it costs the Navy $31 million — all the more reason to create a stable fuel supply here in the U.S. And though oil prices aren’t expected to drop any time soon, biofuel prices are dropping with each new advancement. 

Said Tom Todaro, a leading biofuel entrepreneur whose companies have supplied the military with tens of thousands of gallons of fuel made from mustard seeds, to Wired, “We’d be years behind if it wasn’t for the military.”


Japan Microgrid

Born from Disaster: Japan Establishes First Microgrid Community

Junko Movellan, Correspondent Although Japan's Fukushima prefecture is most commonly associated with the 2011 disaster due to the nuclear power melt-down, Miyazaki prefecture, located north of Fukushima, suffered from the largest death toll, close to 10...
UK Parliament Clean Energy Leaders

UK Government Names Clean Energy Cabinet Members

David Appleyard, Contributing Editor With the UK general election now over and a majority Conservative Party government in place, the re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron has now named key members of the government charged with steering the UK’s clean energ...

Coast to Coast and Across the Electric System, Microgrids Provide Benefits to All

Dick Munson, Environmental Defense Fund At the most obvious level, microgrids could disrupt today’s utilities and their regulated-monopoly business model, because they challenge the centralized paradigm. In a nutshell, microgrids are localized power grids that ha...
Alaska Airlines Biofuel

Alaska Airlines, Gevo To Demonstrate Renewable Alcohol-to-Jet Fuel

Jim Lane, Biofuels Digest

In Colorado, Gevo and Alaska Airlines announced a strategic alliance to purchase Gevo’s renewable jet fuel and fly the first-ever commercial flight on alcohol-to-jet fuel (ATJ).

As associate editor of, I coordinate and edit feature stories, contributed articles, news stories, opinion pieces and blogs. I also research and write content for and REW magazine. I manage


Volume 18, Issue 3


To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:


Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon



International Fuel Ethanol Workshop & Expo

Now in its 31st year, the FEW provides the global ethanol industry with...

Green Energy Summer School: Introduction to Bioenergy

This introductory course gives a detailed overview of the principles of ...

23rd European Biomass Conference and Exhibition

A world class renowned event for dialogue between research, industry, po...


Clean Energy Patents Rise in 2014, Solar Tops others, Toyota and GM...

U.S. patents for Clean Energy technologies in 2014 were again at an all ...

Environmentally friendly solutions for projects

geoAMPS joins the celebration of the worldwide observance of Earth Day o...

US Energy Grid Review Finds Needed Upgrades Would Allow More Solar,...

Yesterday (April 21) the U.S. Department of Energy released the first Qu...


Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now