WASHINGTON — Sen. Jim Inhofe, an outspoken critic of the U.S. military's use of biofuels, asked the secretary of the U.S. Navy on Wednesday to detail the costs of a demonstration in the Pacific last week of a carrier strike group burning a mix of traditional and biofuels.
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to list numerous costs associated with the exercise, down to the price of the green hats and T-shirts to mark the launching of what the Navy calls the Great Green Fleet.
“While I continue to support the development and use of all alternative fuels, I have grave concerns about the cost of ‘greening' our military and the overall impact on our readiness,” Inhofe wrote.
“It has been reported that the Navy spent $12 million for 450,000 gallons of biofuel, which equals approximately $27 a gallon. When added to an additional 450,000 gallons of traditional fuel, the cost per gallon is reduced to $15 a gallon, still over three times the cost of traditional fuel. Over the last three years we have seen the budget of the Navy drastically reduced, yet the Navy can spend $13.5 million on fuel that should have cost only $4.5 million.”
The Green Fleet demonstration came during the Rim of the Pacific exercise, an international event billed as the largest naval exercise in the world. The fleet included the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and dozens of aircraft, three warships and the ship that delivered the fuel.
On board the USS Nimitz, Maybus told sailors and reporters that the biofuel — a mixture of cooking grease and algae that was blended 50-50 with the traditional fuel — made no difference in the performance of the ships and aircraft.
“This is a great day for the U.S. Navy, but it's a great day for America, too,” the secretary said.
“It shows that we can make big strides toward energy security; it shows that we can make big strides toward energy independence; it shows that we can reduce the vulnerability that we currently have because of our dependence on foreign sources of oil.”