Biofuel for the Troops

The oil that moves the navy’s ships, the army’s tanks and the air force’s planes mostly comes from abroad, which means that the US isn’t in control of its military action at home or abroad. You can see that the US is dependent upon other countries to keep their military defense moving. The scenario is one that hasn’t been well publicized until now. The US imports millions of barrels of oil.

The oil is controlled by countries where it could be argued that their rulers (some dictators) might one day refuse the US the oil it needs. There’s also the cost problem. Every time oil goes up by just one dollar, the US Navy has just received a fuel bill increase of $31 million. With fixed budgets this means the Navy can’t run the same operations. It means cutting down on military training exercises which can’t be good should combat be required. National security may be threatened by the need to buy oil imports.

It’s not right that foreign countries should have such a substantial say in US defense actions. Thirty years ago the US looked to import 28% of the total oil required. Today that figure has increased to 60%.

Fortunately, most of the imported oil does come from stable countries, but the largest oil reserves are still in the Middle East, which might not be regarded as the best of America’s friends at present. Most of the US oil requirements comes from Canada, but almost as much comes from Saudi Arabia. In third place comes Mexico followed by smaller amounts from Venezuela, Nigeria, Iraq, the UK, Norway, Angola, Algeria and Colombia.

Limited Resources
There are about 727 billion barrels of oil in reserve in the Middle East. That’s nine times more than Central and South America, with Africa slightly less. India and other countries have small amounts left.

This is why the US departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy have partnered with the private sector. They’re going to produce home grown, advanced biofuels to provide the power for both military and commercial transport.

The biofuels won’t immediately replace oil, but for every part biofuel is used, it’s one less part oil that needs to be purchased. It brings the fuel industry back into the US. It provides jobs and hopefully the time for the US to learn other ways that power can be provided to the defense forces.

With over $300 million spent on imported crude oil (almost $1,000 per person in the US), lower bills will keep US dollars at home working in the local economy. The only worry is balancing import/export initiatives. If oil isn’t required from some countries, what will they do, economically?

Moving to biofuels like ethanol must not become a political football. With current biofuels producing 100 barrels a day for the domestic economy, the technology is in place.

Canada Asks For Help
Canada has taken the step of asking for help with future biofuel plans. They want assistance in planning for their biofuel and bioeconomy future. Research and development are key to future plans. Canada has admitted it doesn’t have all the answers within the government. They want to discuss research activities, evaluations of the environmental footprint, future biofuel trends for production and biodiesel manufacture.

The US is now also asking for help. There is a great need to identify bioeconomy areas like health and energy, the environment and agriculture. The government needs to know what to prioritize. What are the technical areas that need to be addressed to move the bioeconomy forward?

In particular, there needs to be work and energy committed to finding out what imaginary walls are preventing biological research innovation moving from the safety of the laboratories to the commercial markets. The government also needs to consider sensitive data. Their scientists have stockpiled valuable information on the biofuel industry. They have to consider releasing this information to the commercial market which also means it might find its way abroad. On the plus side, this might not be a bad thing if the US can continue to lead and help the world away from oil funded desperation.

We can all see the future and it isn’t oil forever. Biofuels are going to lead the way until other technologies can advance sufficiently.??

Izzy Woods writes for a huge variety of online and offline publications. She has a passion for renewable energy but spends most of her time writing travel blogs, flying abroad on Tripbase flights and savouring cuisine around the world.

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