Politico Pro: Committee OKs two slaps at green military
May 25, 2012
Posted by Katie Brown Katie_Brown@epw.senate.gov
In the News...
Committee OKs two slaps at green military
By DARREN GOODE
The Senate Armed Services Committee surprisingly squeaked through one-vote wins Thursday for two Republican amendments aimed at curbing the Obama administration's greening of the military.
Republicans joined forces with a couple of panel Democrats to win 13-12 victories on two amendments to the defense authorization bill at a closed-door markup, according to sources.
One amendment from Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) is similar to House-passed language that would prevent Pentagon funds in fiscal year 2013 being spent for the sole purpose of purchasing alternative fuels if those fuels are more expensive than conventional fuels. It would make an exception for continued testing of alternative fuels.
Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jim Webb of Virginia supported the amendment.
A second successful amendment from Armed Services ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) would prevent construction of a biofuels refinery or related facility unless required by law.
Webb and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) voted for McCain's amendment.
A third amendment from Inhofe, which lost on a 13-13 tie, would have exempted the Pentagon from the so-called Section 526 requirement forbidding federal agencies from procuring alternative fuels that have higher life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions than conventional fuels. Manchin was the sole Democrat supporting that amendment.
The House has passed that exemption in several bills this Congress, but lawmakers have failed to enact it into law.
The Obama administration - particularly led by the Navy - has put a lot of emphasis on greening the military and lessening its need for oil. The argument has been both to reduce environmental harm and to protect soldiers by not requiring them to make as many dangerous fuel runs.
Biofuel advocates and producers have added that biofuels help cut military costs overall. "Oil market volatility has already wreaked havoc on military budgets, which came at the cost of new equipment and training for our troops and reduced military readiness," a coalition including the Advanced Biofuels Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the Pew Charitable Trusts said in a joint statement.
But Republicans still scored a surprising Senate victory in their argument that tighter military budgets require priorities to be shifted to issues of security rather than biofuels.
"It's not a matter of lives, it's a matter of you have a certain number of taxpayers' dollars that you want to spend on the most effective ways," McCain said Tuesday. "Adopting a ‘green' agenda for national defense of course is a terrible misplacement of priorities. Priorities first is the defense of the nation, not a green agenda."