Tucked away in the massive $453-billion defense spending bill passed by both houses of Congress prior to its holiday recess are provisions for separate reports on two alternative fuels for use by the military: E85 (85% ethanol blend) and Coal-to-Liquids (CTL) synthetic fuels.
Now cleared for signing by the President, the spending bill, H.R. 1815 (EAS—Engrossed as Agreed to by the Senate), was also the bill into which Alaska Senator Ted Stevens had tried to place opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling—an attempt that was defeated.
Section 329 of the bill instructs the Secretary of Defense to conduct a study on the use of ethanol by the Armed Forces and the Defense Agencies. The study is to include:
An evaluation of the historical utilization of ethanol fuel by the Armed Forces and the Defense Agencies;
A forecast of the requirements of the Armed Forces and the Defense Agencies for ethanol fuel for each of fiscal years 2007 through 2012;
An assessment of the current and future commercial availability of E85 ethanol fuel, including facilities for its production, storage, transportation, distribution, and commercial sale;
A review of the actions of the Department to coordinate with State, local, and private entities to support the expansion and use of alternative fuel refueling stations that are accessible to the public; and
An assessment of the fueling infrastructure on military installations in the United States, including storage and distribution facilities, that could be adapted or converted to the delivery of ethanol fuel, including an assessment of the cost, feasibility and advisability of the adaptation or conversion of such infrastructure.
The E85 report is due 1 February 2006.
Section 1090, which incorporates the language proposed by Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) (earlier post) calls for the Secretaries of Energy and Defense in coordination to prepare a development plan for a national coal-to-liquids fuel program and a report on the potential use of the fuels by the Department of Defense.
The development plan is to take into consideration:
Technology needs and developmental barriers;
Economic and national security effects;
Environmental standards and carbon capture and storage opportunities;
Timelines and milestones;
Diverse regions having coal reserves that would be suitable for liquefaction plants;
Coal-liquid fuel testing to meet civilian and military engine standards and markets;
- Any roles other Federal agencies, State governments, and international entities could play in developing a coal-to-liquid fuel industry.
Both the CTL development plan and report are due 90 days after the enactment of the Act.