HUGE ANNUAL FUEL BILLS
The Air Force spends about $10 billion a year on energy, with nearly $9 billion of that being for jet fuel, Kevin Geiss, Air Force deputy assistant secretary for energy, said recently.
Planning is done two years in advance, so officials in 2009 were expecting jet fuel to cost about $2.37 a gallon in 2011. Instead, prices rose as high as $3.96 a gallon.
“What that results in, for this year, was about a billion dollar shortfall from what we had budgeted for in fuel,” Geiss said.
Geiss said Air Force work on biofuels was focused on ensuring that products likely to achieve commercial-scale production are formulated correctly for use in aircraft engines. The Navy’s mission is much broader, he said.
The Obama administration directed the Navy last year to work with the Agriculture and Energy departments to invest up to $510 million to help private industry partners develop a viable alternative energy market capable of producing cost-competitive marine and jet fuels.
Some companies involved in the push to build a biofuels industry have connections to prominent Democratic backers, further raising Republican skepticism of the effort.
Vinod Khosla, whose venture capital firm says it played a central role in funding and developing Gevo’s business strategy, has given campaign contributions of $474,534 since 1996, 86 percent of which has gone to Democrats, according to data compiled by opensecrets.org. Khosla’s firm owned a 27 percent stake in Gevo as of the company’s March federal filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Khosla also has close ties to another venture capital firm whose team includes Al Gore, the former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate in 2000.