In mid January, the Navy launched the “Great Green Fleet” out of San Diego. The Fleet represents the Navy and Marine Corps’ first strides into adopting alternative energy sources to enhance military operations. The energy-saving capability will help to combat the over usage of the Earth’s natural resources and protect the economic welfare of rural America. The launch of the fleet is a milestone in the military not relying on foreign sources for their energy.
Tom Vilsack, the Navy’s Agriculture Secretary, was joined by Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus, at the launch of the Navy’s latest achievement. Mabus was appointed the Secretary of the Navy back in 2009, and set an aggressive goal in his first years in office. He stated that by 2020 the Navy would be using over 50 percent of alternative sources to fuel their energy. During his speech in San Diego, he spoke about how America plans to lower the risk of American’s lives when it comes to obtaining fossil fuels.
“At the height of the fighting in Afghanistan we were losing one Marine, killed or wounded, for every 50 convoys of fuels brought in. That’s way too high of a price to pay.”
As the world’s greatest consumer of energy, the Defense Department has been pursing ways to cut their carbon footprint down. The Navy, who uses more than a third of the energy, have been forerunners in ending their ties with foreign oils as part of a national security plan.
Early plans to switch to biofuels were met with outrage when the Pentagon bought biofuels at $26 per gallon back in 2012. As a result of the high price tag, lawmakers passed a law that would restrict the purchase of biofuels, unless the price was on par with the price of petroleum. Now, the purchase of 77 million gallons of a 10 percent biofuel mix cost $2.05 a gallon. At 13 times less than 2012 only three and half years later, it’s a victory for Mabus. As a result of the price drop, other contracts are in the works to fuel ships in other places.
The biofuel is a mix made from waste beef fat that was provided by Midwestern farmers and ranchers. By purchasing from rural America, it will help create a sustainable economy for the 15% of Americans who reside there. Besides providing new energy sources for the fleet, the small towns of the Midwest provide around 40% of the military. Mabus stressed that land used for farming will not used in the creation of biofuel. Besides working towards eliminating the carbon footprint made by the Navy, the usage of biofuel should add thousands of jobs in a hard pressed area.
Using the biofuel will not change how the ships operate either. With rigid Navy stipulations in place, there will be no modifications to the ship transports, equipment, procedures or engines. In the next four years, the Navy is aiming to move from a 90-10 mix to a 50-50 mix.