The Great Green Fleet: Problem Identified, Solution Found
I get the feeling that I don’t need to cite to the readers of this blog what the US Navy has going on this week in the Pacific with the first deployment testing of the “Great Green Fleet.” That they are undergoing two high tempo days of full scale operations, where everything but the nuclear powered aircraft carriers and submarines will be operating solely off of a 50% blend of next generation biofuels and traditional petroleum based fuels –all other ships and aircraft included. It is pretty damned exciting stuff, and all over the energy and national security media. Given that the carrier and subs would otherwise be consuming huge amounts of fuel on their own, we can say with certainty that this operation is well over 50% fossil fuel free.
And this, despite repeated threats by Congress to pull the rug of funding out from under the SECNAV and Chief of Naval Operation’s demonstration that biofuels work just fine in the harsh environments of combat. That is what I love about our military – you see a threat, understand it, and take action to eliminate it. While Congress dithers about who is going to fund their next campaign – is it going to be the American Petroleum Institute? The West Virginia Coal Association? – the US Navy is full steam ahead creating the solutions it needs for the battles it will face in the coming decades.
I don’t get it. I don’t understand why Congress doesn’t get it. Why Senator Scott Brown doesn’t get it. Massachusetts companies and academic institutions are winning this battle, and yet he still can’t find the intestinal fortitude to support the efforts full stop. This shouldn’t be a political thing. This is an effort that is harnessing some of the best America has to offer, and creating a market that doesn’t yet exist, to counter threats before they arise, and create the prosperity our children will need to help fight the societal and planetary destruction we are leaving them. This IS capitalism at work. We are putting the nation’s capital to work as an investment in our own security and future – through rigorous testing and validation, and creating market forces to get where we see we need to be.
I suppose I can understand (though definitely not agree with) the short-sighted nothing-but-coal policies of Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. He would have the Navy and Air Force fly and sail on nothing but Fischer-Tropsch fuels derived from West Virginia’s declining coal reserves. Made in plants that would never recoup their investment, and require tremendous amounts of taxpayer subsidy to get built. All while voting to repeal the Section 526 prohibition that the DoD cannot buy fuel with a larger carbon footprint than petroleum fuels because they are “too expensive.”
The bottom line is this is a great week for America. And again, it is in spite of our Congress, in spite of the political hacks that have taken over our ability to get things done in this country. So one score to Navy.
The ball is now in Army’s hands. The Army EITF will be soon releasing its plan to build $7B worth of renewable energy projects over the next decade with private capital soon. And it will happen in spite of Congress’s inability to give renewables tax treatment as investments similar to what fossil fuels receive.
Jon Gensler is a Truman Security Fellow.