SKEPTICISM IN CONGRESS
Lawmakers are skeptical of that view, saying Mabus and the Pentagon have not produced the analysis needed to back up his arguments.
Representative Randy Forbes, one of his leading critics, said on Monday that Mabus needed to explain how he came to the conclusion that renewable fuels can achieve price competitiveness with petroleum.
“We are absolutely opposed to the secretary trying to spend taxpayer money to create alternative markets just because he wants those alternative markets without any analysis to substantiate what it’s going to take to successfully do that,” he said.
In his report, Bartis said price fluctuations in the oil market would at times force the U.S. military to spend heavily on fuel, but “alternative liquid fuels do not offer DoD (the Defense Department) a way to appreciably reduce fuel costs.”
He said U.S. military fears about not having access to an adequate fuel supply were not credible. The military consumes about 340,000 barrels of oil per day, less than a half of 1 percent of global demand. The United States produces more than 8 million barrels of oil per day domestically.
“There is no credible scenario in which the U.S. military would be unable to access the supplies of fuel it needs to defend the nation,” Bartis said.
He said the most effective way for the U.S. military to deal with fuel concerns is to reduce its own consumption by purchasing more energy-efficient equipment and implementing other conservation measures.
Although questioning the military’s efforts to pioneer alternative fuels, the RAND report underscored the importance of the Navy and Air Force in promoting stability in the oil producing regions by ensuring sea lanes remain open to all.
The study said the Caspian region was of growing importance for global oil supplies, with Turkey aiming to become an international energy hub.