“I tell you what, I support efforts for alternative fuel. We’re doing a lot right now in our little small piece of the world in Afghanistan, in combat outposts with regards to alternative fuel,” he said at a National Press Club luncheon, citing the Marine Corps’ use of solar and wind-derived energy while discussing the Navy’s efforts. “I’m a big believer in biofuels, excuse me, in alternative fuels — in our case, alternative energy — and the biofuel, I think, is probably just one step along the way.”
Amos’s comment comes as the GOP is trying to block the Navy’s push for a “Great Green Fleet,” one that relies more on clean biofuels. Back in May, House Republicans included a measure in the defense authorization bill prohibiting the Defense Department from purchasing any alternative fuels that cost more than “traditional fossil fuel” (a move that would effectively eliminate biofuels from contention as its small market share means higher prices). The Senate followed suit but a subcommittee in the upper chamber later approved legislation to continue funding for the Pentagon’s use of biofuels.
Amos isn’t the first high-ranking U.S. military official to publicly support the military’s move toward alternative energy. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said last year that the military would continue efforts to become more fuel efficient and invest in clean energy technology. “Fundamentally, we know that saving energy saves lives,” Dempsey said, adding, “I’ll do everything I can as chairman to support these innovations and to get the right emerging technologies into our troops’ hands as soon as possible. … We may have the opportunity to increase capability and save money.”
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) attacked Navy Secretary Ray Mabus — who has led the charge pushing for the “Great Green Fleet” — earlier this year for advocating for a greener fleet. “Shouldn’t we refocus our priorities and make those things our priorities instead of advancing a biofuels market?” Forbes asked Mabus during a House hearing in May. “You’re not the secretary of the energy. You’re the secretary of the Navy.”
While Republicans seem comfortable attacking Mabus — a political appointee — it remains unclear at this point whether they will publicly criticize Gen. Dempsey or Gen. Amos for supporting the military’s use of alternative energy. But perhaps continued campaign contributions from their friends in the oil and gas industry might push them along?