US Senate Armed Services Committee produces markup limiting DoD purchase of biofuels and prohibiting construction of biorefineries
The US Senate Committee on Armed Services completed its markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. The bill emerging from the Senate committee authorizes $631.4 billion for national defense programs. The bill authorizes $498.0 million more than the President’s request for the base budget of DOD and $301.0 million less than was requested for OCO ( overseas contingency operations, which funds the war in Afghanistan). The bill authorizes $431.0 million less than the requested level of funding for national security programs of the DOE.
Among the many provisions of the markup are (a) a provision that would prohibit the use of funds authorized to be appropriated to the Department of Defense (DoD) in FY 2013 from being obligated or spent for the production or sole purchase of an alternative fuel if the cost exceeds the cost of traditional fossil fuels used for the same purpose, except for continued testing purposes; and (b) a provision prohibiting the construction of a biofuels refinery or any other facility or infrastructure used to refine biofuels unless the requirement is specifically authorized by law.
The DoD authorization legislation must now be debated on the Senate floor and ultimately conferenced with the House version.
The votes in the Armed Services Committee on both provisions were narrow: 13-12. In favor were Senators Webb, Manchin, McCain, Inhofe, Sessions, Chambliss, Wicker, Brown, Portman, Ayotte, Graham, Cornyn, and Vitter. Opposed were Senators Levin, Lieberman, Reed, Akaka, Nelson, McCaskill, Udall, Hagan, Begich, Shaheen, Gillibrand, and Blumenthal.
Novozymes, the leading producer of enzymes that turn biomass into biofuels, called the Senate committee’s decision to block DoD’s use of domestically-made renewable energy to power its vehicles a “lost opportunity.”
If you look at the support for energy programs in the farm bill, we know the Senate understands the huge impact renewable fuels are having. Fueled by private investment, they are adding to America’s mix of domestic energy, reducing prices for consumers and freeing us of foreign influence. Today’s vote, however, was a lost opportunity. Biofuels are reducing costs for US consumers more than a dollar a gallon—and we should let that innovation do the same for our military. We look forward to working with our allies in the Senate and helping the military achieve its cost-reduction and transportation goals.—Adam Monroe, President of Novozymes North America