Inhofe: Navy ‘publicity stunt’ squandered millions, put sailors’ lives at risk

Melissa Quinn Contributor
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While lawmakers on Capitol Hill were struggling to find a solution to the threat of sequestration, the Navy spent more than $12 million at the Rim of the Pacific exercise painting ships, printing hats and transporting fuel to parade the Navy’s Great Green Fleet in front of thousands of spectators and foreign military observers.

Although Navy Secretary Ray Mabus claimed the Navy used funds from the Pentagon’s research and development budget, funding for the demonstration actually came from the Navy’s operations and management budget, which allocates money for training, supplies, equipment and “overall readiness, putting at risk the lives of our sailors,” said Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe.

In preparation for the demonstration, the Navy painted parts of its ships and planes green, made t-shirts and hats with the slogan “Keeping the Earth Green, One Bag of Biofuel at a Time” and transported thousands of gallons of biofuel to Hawaii – all on taxpayers’ dime.

“It’s much more than that,” Inhofe, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told The Daily Caller. “They painted the ships, did all these other things and we have requested from the Department of the Navy the breakdown of what the real cost is.”

The Navy reportedly paid $12 million alone for more than 425,000 gallons of biofuel, and GOP leaders are working to determine the overall cost of the Navy’s “publicity stunt.”

Inhofe has sent a letter to the Navy requesting a breakdown of the costs, aiming to determine why the Great Green Fleet demo was even necessary in the first place.

“This event seems to be more about putting dollars in the hands of the biofuel industry,” he said, calling the Great Green Fleet demonstration a “publicity stunt sure to make President Obama’s environmentalist base smile.”

Typically, the Navy would use the research and development budget to fund projects like the Great Green Fleet, allocating funds outlined in the budget for basic and applied scientific research, development, testing and evaluation.

In 2012, the Navy allocated more than $17 billion for research and development, with the president requesting $16 billion in his 2013 budget request to Congress.

The Navy unveiled its highly anticipated Great Green Fleet at RIMPAC, but came under a storm of fire from the GOP for using unnecessary funds to promote the Obama administration’s green agenda.

In an effort to defend the fleet, Mabus said the environmentally friendly ships and planes — which operate on a mix of algae and cooking oil — would reduce the Navy’s dependence on foreign oil.

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