Biofuels Phased Into Navy Fleets: The Role of Politics in Promoting Clean Energy

Biofuels were a trendy and exciting prospect for clean energy in the early 2000s. There is still a lot of residual push for biofuel in Western economies. Although there have been recent studies arguing that the carbon emissions created in the process of harvesting crops for a popular form of biofuel (ethanol), the federal government still considers it a viable option for clean energy. In 2016, the government granted 500 million dollars to phase in biofuel to various Navy vessels. The overall goal is to have 50% of the Navy’s energy come from alternative sources in the next four years (with two years left, counting down from 2016). “The Green Fleet” is the first installation of this initiative; although right now it is only utilizing a biofuel “mix” with a 9 to 1 ratio of petroleum to biofuel.

The reason for this push towards a greener military, (which in the U.S., feels like an oxymoron) is not necessarily out of concern for the environment but apparently  out of concern for the U.S. reliance on foreign oil. According to the attached article, U.S. troops must shuttle oil back and forth from military bases abroad , which can often be a dangerous and fatal task.  “In 2010, we were losing too many marines in convoys carrying fossil fuels to outposts in Afghanistan, and the prohibitive cost of oil was requiring us to stop training at home in order to keep steaming abroad, a dangerous and unsustainable scenario,” said Ray Mabus, the Navy secretary at the time.

This article was a refreshing change from the pristine approach that most environmental articles assume. It reveals a new leverage point: that of foreign relations and the case against globalization. The steps towards alternative energy by a relatively conservative sect of the government is heartening because it shows that the military is acknowledging climate change as a problem and as they say, acknowledging the problem is the first step towards fixing it.

My question is: how can international politics and the vilification of global markets contribute more to environmental markets?




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