The Defense Department has a grand vision for the U.S. military's energy future, including "green"-powered fleets, jets and trucks. But members of Congress are hung up on the dollar signs that come with going green.
Language in the House and Senate versions of the defense budget largely bans the use of alternative energy like biofuels, prohibiting the military from purchasing any alternative fuel that costs more than traditional fossil fuels like oil. The catch: Biofuels are always more expensive than oil, about four times more.
The Defense Department's purchase of small amounts of biofuel for research and development has dramatically reduced the price of biofuels, cutting the cost in half in two years, according to Mabus. And the Navy is investing $170 million in the production of advanced "drop-in" aviation and marine biofuels to kick-start the U.S. alternative energy sector.
"It's really about investment today for pay off tomorrow," said clean energy advocate Phyllis Cuttino of Pew Charitable Trusts. "How much did the first pair of night vision goggles cost us? A lot more probably than they cost now."
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