Bill would extend Defense Dept.'s biofuels contracting ability

By Erin Voegele | May 16, 2011

On May 11, Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., introduced legislation that would authorize the U.S. Department of Defense to engage in 15 year contracts for advanced biofuels. The bill, titled the “Domestic Fuel for Enhancing National Security Act of 2011,” or H.R. 1847, was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Armed Services. According to information published in the Congressional Record, DOD contracts for advanced biofuels are currently limited to 5 years.

Several comments Inslee made to his colleagues while introducing the bill have also been published in the Congressional Record. The documentation states that Inslee noted the DOD is the largest single user of energy in the country, accounting for 2 percent of all U.S. energy consumption. In fact, the DOD is estimated to use up to 300,000 barrels of oil every day, a figure that continues to increase. He also outlined the U.S. Navy’s plan to reduce petroleum use in its commercial fleet by 50 percent by 2015.

“No one knows better than the Department of Defense that energy supplies are critical to combat troops and our national security,” said Inslee as recorded in the Congressional Record. “To ultimately realize these goals, we must dramatically scale-up advanced biofuel production in the United States. With added Congressional authority to purchase longer-term contracts, our defense sector could adopt domestically produced sustainable fuels for the security of our troops.”

Inslee has also noted that advanced biofuels offer an important opportunity for both job creation and as a mechanism to help reduce our dependence on foreign oil. “This legislation makes common sense changes to Department of Defense procurement policies that will bring certainty to advanced biofuel producers[, which] will result in additional private capital,” Inslee said. “With bipartisan support, this legislation will take us another step closer to true energy independence.”

The Biotechnology Industry Organization has spoken out in support of the bill. “Expanding the Defense Department’s ability to engage in long-term contracts would provide potential investors and advanced biofuel companies market stability when they commit capital to building new biorefineries,” said Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section. “We need a dramatic scaling up of advanced biofuel production in the United States, beginning with capital investment in deploying new technologies. The Defense Department recognizes that domestically produced advanced biofuels are vital to our energy security, by for instance shielding the military from volatile energy supplies and prices.”


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