May 18, 2012
The House is also slated to vote on a defense authorization bill (HR 4310), which has a small provision with big implications for future transportation fuels. The Defense Department has been developing advanced biofuels for its ships and planes, helping make a market along with other federal agencies. The DOD’s goal is to curb dependence on oil products, provide reliable home-grown motor fuels with less wild price swings than oil, and perhaps ultimately deploy biofuel facilities that could shrink fuel tanker convoys that make inviting targets for adversaries. Commercial ship lines, railroads, airlines and other motor fuel users are watching, partly because biodiesel and jet fuel could help trim their emissions and partly in hopes of getting fuels with less volatile costs. House conservatives don’t like the DOD paying for alternative fuels when oil-derived fuels may be cheaper, and the authorizing bill would exempt the DOD from the alternatives program. That could cripple the effort since the DOD is the world’s largest buyer of oil fuels and its fleets are key to developing new-era fuel options.