Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus’ “Great Green Fleet” is proving to be less than great, and a host of Republican leaders are advocating against the ships, which are set to hit the high seas in 2016.
Mabus first unveiled his plan to build a green fleet in October 2009, but further analysis of the ships has shown that the fleet may be a flop.
Republican leaders believe the green fleet comes at the taxpayers’ expense at a time when the Department of Defense needs to be saving money as opposed to spending it.
“There’s no question that the military can be more fuel-efficient, and we should leverage innovative developments in the private sector to help make that happen,” said Amanda Henneberg, a spokeswoman for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. ”But sinking $70 million worth of taxpayer money into a Solyndra-style showboat is not the answer. The purpose of our Armed Forces is to keep Americans safe — not act as a centerpiece for green energy pet-projects.”
Last October, in opposition to President Barack Obama’s cuts to shipbuilding, Romney pledged $40 billion to build new ships.
“As the Department of Defense faces drastic budget cuts, the last thing the military needs is to be forced by President Obama to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on an expensive green energy agenda,” Republican Sen. James Inhofe told The Hill.
The Navy has already slashed more than $58.1 billion from its 2013 budget — the most out of the armed services — and faces sharp declines in military personnel and ship production. The service has also committed to cutting production on drones by more than 50 percent while other countries are upping theirs — and looking to domestic defense companies like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to develop them.
“Alternative energy is a great thing for us to do research on and keep on the horizon, but what we should not be doing is spending millions and millions in taxpayer money that we have to take from men and women in uniform,” Republican Rep. Randy Forbes, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, told The Daily Caller.
Forbes, along with members of the committee from both parties, has demanded analysis and research into alternative energy from the secretary of the Navy but has gotten nothing in return.
Once the fleet leaves port, Forbes said, the taxpayers are going to be paying for a fuel that could be as much as 5 percent less efficient than others. And, for those ships heading into foreign waters, almost 10 percent of all fuel purchased will be bought overseas.
“That’s just it,” Forbes said. “What the secretary will tell you is that this is designed to lessen the need for foreign oil, but there’s absolutely nothing in biofuels that lessens that need.”
The biofuel industry in the United States has yet to take off, but the Navy — along with the Departments of Agriculture and Energy — has already committed to pumping more than $170 million into the industry to act as a catalyst.
Some speculate the secretary is working to satisfy a need by the Obama administration — a charge that Forbes agrees with.