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Toomey amendments would reallocate military funding for biofuels

By Erin Voegele | March 18, 2013

On March 14, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., filed two amendments that aim to strip biofuel spending from H.R. 933, a military appropriations bill. The bill, titled the “Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013,” is being considered by the Senate. According to a statement posted to the U.S. Senate Democrats website, the Senate was unable to reach an agreement to vote in relation to the Toomey amendments last week. Additional action on the bill is expected to be taken today.

One amendment offered by Toomey would transfer $60 million in funding currently allocated for the U.S. Department of Defense’s biofuel program under the heading for advanced drop-in biofuel production, and reassign it to support military operation and maintenance expenses of the DOD in connection with programs, projects and activities in the continental United States. The second amendment would reduce the amount of funding allocated to the military’s alternative energy research by a total of $114 million. The funding would also be reallocated for operation and maintenance expenses. Of the $114 million, $37 would be stripped from allocations to the Army, $40 million from allocations made to the Navy, and $37 from allocations for the Air Force.

A statement posted to Toomey’s website specifies that he authored these amendments after learning that the Tobyhanna Army Depot plans to lay off 418 civilian contract employees. The money diverted from the biofuel programs is supposed to help avoid these and similar layoffs. “Given tightening budgets, it makes little sense to waste money on inefficient, overpriced energy sources when we could use those same funds to help support critical maintenance services for the warfighter,” he said in the statement.

However, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has long argued that biofuels are an integral part of the military’s energy future and America’s energy security. Last summer, the Navy successfully demonstrated its Great Green Fleet.