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How GHG Hysteria Hurts Nation’s Defense

November 4, 2010

An earlier article introduced the president’s Executive Order 13514, and the resulting Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan (SSPP) issued by the Department of Defense.

This fixation on Green House Gasses (GHG) is resulting in actions that detract from our nation’s defense.

Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, directed that half of the energy used by [Navy] installations will come from alternative sources by 2020. This will increase costs and divert funds from the Navy’s ability to defend our country.

Secretary Mabus also plans to field a carrier strike group powered only by biofuels and nuclear energy. Nuclear power is good, but biofuels?

This is delusional. Biofuels cannot be produced in sufficient quantities to supply the Navy’s ships, so why waste time and money on this stunt? Even if biofuels could be produced in quantity, it would add complexity to distributing fuel to Navy ships around the world.

DOD has a goal to have 18.3% of energy consumed by facilities, produced or procured from renewable sources by FY 2020.

Once again this costs more and diverts funds from military equipment.

According to the SSPP, DOD “completed the infrastructure for 16 alternative fueling stations to dispense E85 and B20 (a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel). It also installed a solar photovoltaic charging station.”

Again, money that could be used for equipment for our troops

From SSPP, “The Department is committed to conducting a comprehensive GHG inventory, starting with FY 2010.”

This is not a trivial undertaking, and will consume the efforts of people who should be planning on how to defend our country.

According to the SSPP, DOD is spending $100 million on an 18-month project to develop more affordable, less resource-intensive algae-based synthetic fuels.

According to a Financial Times, November 4, 2009 article on biofuels, the federal government poured money into algae-to-fuels research from 1978 until 1996 without any real success, so prospects of algae playing a major role are dim. In 2009, fuel from algae was estimated to cost $30 per gallon, a prohibitive price, yet the Secretary of the Navy persists in his bio-fueled strike group.

The SSPP focused on sustainability. While being able to sustain successful military operations is critical to our defense, many of the sustainability items included in the SSPP were for reducing GHG.

The Department of Defense should be focusing on how to win our wars, and should not be burdened with having to cut GHG emissions, which diverts resources, money and manpower, from its mission.

The SSPP can be obtained here:

Executive Order 13514 can be downloaded here:

© Power America, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Power America with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. ned conger permalink
    November 4, 2010 12:06 pm

    I’d like permission to distribute this article to several colleagues interested in naval aviation.

  2. November 4, 2010 12:18 pm

    All of my articles may be distributed so long as Power America is referenced as the source.
    Thank you for your interest.

  3. November 4, 2010 12:36 pm

    Interesting, although I disagree that the biofuels industry can’t supply enough fuel to meet demand for the Navy. Costs go down as production increases and this could be a good alternative to the lack congress extending the biodiesel blenders tax credit.

    Algea biodiesel is likely a waste of time unless some MAJOR advances happen in the near future.

    I agree that nuclear powered fleets are a step in the right direction, although the Navy should explore the use of Thorium based reactors since they consume waste from our current nuclear facilities eliminating a great deal of radioactice waste. This would enable them to be paid for a large portion of their fuel (as opposed to nuclear power plants and tax payers paying for 25,000 years of storage of nuclear waste)

  4. November 4, 2010 4:28 pm

    My October 18 article discussed Thorium reactors, but not necessarily for application in the Navy.
    With regard to supplying navy ships, I was thinking more about the supply chain than whether the industry could supply sufficient volume. My September 6 article discussed biofuels, though not for the navy, and how difficult it is to produce them in quantity.
    Non nuclear powered ships at sea need to be fueled during underway replenishment from tankers, or what were once called oilers. It’s already a challenge to provide aviation fuel, fuel oil and diesel oil without adding biofuels to the mix – especially since there is no cost or performance advantage.
    My time in the navy was on-board oilers and cargo ships, where I did several trips to the Med doing underway replenishment.
    Logistics in the fleet should be kept simple.

  5. November 4, 2010 8:06 pm

    I don’t think Mabus is thinking GHG when ordering the changeover to oil alternatives. I think he is looking at the vulnerability of our forces to the whims of foreign producers now and in the future which have already been responsible for the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of the world. An argument can be made that access to oil was the cause and outcome determinant of WWII and Desert Storm, and the real reason behind Operation Iraqi Freedom. If not logistically – culturally. I don’t think Bush’s 2006 State of the Union address was about climate change – it was about how our military readiness, economy, and our diplomacy is totally coerced by our addiction to oil. And he was a Texas oil Republican. What do we do when oil production flattens and drops while oil demand from Asia drives relentlessly upward? I think this is why former CIA Director Jim Woolsey seeks making “oil boring” ( ), former DoD Sec. and first Sec. of Energy Dr. Jim Schlesinger warns about peak oil supply ( ), and Gen. Wesley Clark speak passionately about breaking our addiction through biofuels development and economic independnce through rural revival ( ). These men have integrity. The costs you talk about are insignificant compared to the resource wars that are on the horizon if we don’t end our addiction to oil. The military is the perfect place to start.

    • November 7, 2010 1:08 pm

      Good points bioblogger. I agree we need to find better alternatives to using foreign oil. Donn I think you need to take into account his arguement about being dependent on other nations because this will likley play a big role in our nations security if we continue to ship in crude.

      Also even with as much crude we have here that has yet to be tapped into our geologists do not have the view that we can drill our way to meeting America’s oil needs.

      Natural gas, cleaner (and more efficient) coal plants, new thorium based nuclear power, wind plants (where they will have the biggest impact), solar (where it will have the biggest impact), a new far more efficient electrical grid, and with bio based fuels (that don’t affect the food supply) can do it in time.

  6. November 5, 2010 10:31 am

    There is no need during this century to worry about whether we will have enough oil. The United States has huge supplies of oil – but the government won’t allow us to drill for it.
    My other comments remain the same.
    Biofuels add unnecessarily to our cost. They make the supply issue more difficult.
    Money spent on experimenting with biofuels isn’t available for buying important defense weapons or for paying our men and women in the military.
    Whether the world will run out of oil is another debate. There are tar sands in Canada with more oil than in Saudi Arabia. We have more oil in shale than there is oil in Saudi Arabia.
    Huge swaths of the earth’s surface have not been explored for oil.
    There is also the possibility of coal to liquids.
    There is hysteria over whether the world will run out of oil. I don’t believe we need to worry about running out of oil in this century – and probably not in the next.

  7. November 7, 2010 12:58 pm

    Hey Donn, read your article on Thorium based reactors, thats actually quite a different take from the more tradional reactors that are cureently being propsed. Thorium is a good fuel because it is 4 times as abundent as uranium and it can be fed the waste products of current nuclear reactors and use it as a fuel. Thorium basically absorbes a nuetron to eventually form U233 and then the U233 is fissle and therefore will fission (split) when absorbing additional nuetrons.

    Thorium is very common in the US, Canada, and India so it would be advantageous to have reactors of this type in all sorts of applications.

    As far as our oil supply goes, yes we do technically have abundant resources yet to be tapped however extracting from shale (for example) can be expensive, and off shore deep water drilling can be problematic as we have recently seen in the Gulf.

    If prices on crude continue to climb these could be a great local energy sources so long as technology and design for extracting from these areas continues to get better.

    I am a firm believer in that we need to do what we can (responsibly) to make America energy independent. There is no single solution and it certainly will not happen overnight, but if we explore many avenues at once I feel we can meet this goal in time.

    • November 7, 2010 2:11 pm

      Thanks. I appreciate your comment. Glad you read the article on Thorium reactors. By the way, India is developing a Thorium reactor, but it uses plutonium to initiate the reaction. Donn

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