To set the record straight, section 313 of the committee bill prohibits you from further sacrificing readiness or other critical needs for the sake of politically driven demonstrations and codifies the Navy’s position to purchase alternative fuels for operational use only at prices competitive with traditional fossil fuels. Section 2823 requires Congressional authorization for a Defense official to enter into a contract for the development of commercial refineries. Neither provision restricts the Department’s ability to continue to pursue cost-competitive options in response to the price volatility of petroleum-based fuels.

A report in the U-T San Diego dated July 19, 2012 about the Navy’s recent biofuels demonstration during RIMPAC 2012, stated that “[t]he Navy has been busy with the paint.” Apparently, ships and airplanes were painted green, and “special green Nimitz baseball hats were made and they sat on the commanding officer’s desk, ready to be given out as souvenirs.” If this report is true, I do not believe this is a prudent use of Defense funds at a time when the Department of Defense is dealing with $487 billion in budget cuts and the country is perched on the edge of a fiscal cliff of unprecedented proportion.

Mr. Secretary, I am well aware that a Department of Defense report concluded in 2011 that the Navy’s renewable fuel goals, even with market stability, will impose up to $1.8 billion in additional estimated annual fuel costs by 2020. The report also concluded that the potential of adverse effects by creating a new DoD commodity class could outweigh the potential benefits. I note that the Army and the Air Force are committed to research and testing with limited resources to widen the availability of certified alternative fuels. But, senior Air Force leadership has specifically rejected any investments in the development of a new biofuel commodity, noting, “[t]hat’s not a place for the government to be.”

The committee’s provisions are intended to prevent future improper expenditures of this nature, and instead to focus the resources of the Navy on energy-related initiatives that offer the greatest return on investment for the safety and security of our military personnel in the near term. The Department of the Navy is faced with the threat of additional across-the-board budget cuts in January 2013 that will have a devastating impact on shipbuilding, the size of the fleet, sealift, readiness, the repair of our shipyards, and the end strength of the Navy and Marine Corps for years to come. You are the Secretary of the Navy, not the Secretary of Energy. I strongly encourage you to marshal the time and resources of your team to avert serious threats to the core missions and capabilities of the Department of the Navy, instead of spending defense dollars to advocate for your view of our national energy priorities.


John McCain

Ranking Member