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A biofuels Navy? It's nothing but bilge

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

The Navy is no place to test the future viability of biofuels — not when costs defy common sense and potential benefits are more elusive than practical, according to an energy analysis and a corporate study.

The so-called “great green fleet,” advocated by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, is supposed to “reduce the Department of Navy's consumption of energy, decrease its reliance on foreign sources of oil and significantly increase its use of alternative energy.” Toward this end, Mr. Mabus says biofuels are key.

In the private sector, the claim is spurious. For the military, it's ludicrous, especially when a gallon of diesel costs Defense approximately $3.60 compared with $26 for a gallon of biofuel, according to a Heritage Foundation report.

Thomas Pyle, who heads the Institute for Energy Research, says biofuel production today remains “inefficient, expensive and ultimately unsustainable.”

Moreover, research shows that biofuels are more corrosive than petroleum fuels. And even if the Navy goes full speed ahead on biofuels, it would still have to rely on diesel in foreign ports.

Add to that a new study by the RAND Corp., which finds no benefit to the Navy or any other military branch by investing in biofuels.

America's Navy has far more pressing matters — among them, fleet maintenance and shipbuilding — than spending vital time and resources on a purely political directive.

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