Leftists see the military more as a playground for kooky ideas than as the primary responsibility of the federal government. Consider the scheme President Obama announced Tuesday that will have the armed forces devote a great deal of time, money and energy to switch to so-called advanced biofuels. Underneath the trendy "green" label, however, is a classic example of pork-barrel politics.
Under the White House plan, the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and the Navy will divert $510 million in taxpayer funds to develop less efficient sources of power to meet the Navy's transportation needs. This represents a small down payment, as Navy Secretary Ray Mabus committed to converting half of the Navy's petroleum use to biofuel by the year 2020. That's an expensive proposition. The combined services last year used 130 million barrels of petroleum, worth about $13.4 billion, according to Defense Logistics Agency figures. Military experiments with various plant, animal-fat and algae-based fuels represented a fraction of even the daily need of the world's single largest consumer of oil.
So the plan is to subsidize these pie-in-the-sky boondoggles. "Current processes for producing advanced drop-in biofuels are expensive," an administration memorandum explained. "Therefore, it is necessary that the federal government cooperates with industry to create a strong demand signal and to make targeted investments to achieve the necessary production capacity required." In other words, nobody in their right mind would select this stuff as a fuel. Despite being $14.6 trillion in debt, the Obama administration plans to blow millions investing in something the private sector says is a fool's bet.
White House talking points refer to the plan's importance as an "energy security" measure. The idea is that each bizarre source of fuel harvested in the United States reduces the amount imported from Middle Eastern sources. It sounds good, but there's an easier and cheaper way to accomplish the same goal. Instead of wasting time trying to power military vehicles with sunshine and dreams, lifting the administration's blockade on America's vast reserves of black gold would go further in reducing our dependence on foreign suppliers. Oil is the most efficient and reliable source of power for our ships, tanks, airplanes and automobiles.
With Mr. Obama as commander in chief, there's no telling what comes next. He's already ordered green fuel and green bullets. Perhaps the next move is to ensure our bombs are environmentally friendly so he can claim to be saving the planet, one explosion at a time.
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