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06.11.2012 0

Rep. Waxman Blocks U.S. Air Force from Obtaining Fuel from a Reliable, Friendly Source

Rep. WaxmanBy Kevin Mooney — Is there anything America’s political class is doing to undermine the nation’s geopolitical standing that a paid foreign agent of a hostile power could do better?

The answer is: they would have a hard time improving upon an obscure provision of the 2007 “Energy Independence and Security Act” that prohibits the U.S. Department of Defense from purchasing any fuels that yield higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions than petroleum.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who was then chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was responsible for inserting the provision, Section 526, which states: “No Federal agency shall enter into a contract for procurement of an alternative or synthetic fuel, including a fuel produced from nonconventional petroleum sources, for any mobility-related use, other than research or testing, unless the contract specifies that the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated  with the production and combustion of the fuel supplied  under the contract must, on an ongoing basis, be less than or equal to such emissions from the equivalent conventional fuel produced from conventional petroleum sources.”

Waxman’s primary objective is to block Air Force purchase contracts of alternative fuels that could require investments into industries with relatively high GHG emissions. This means that instead of developing the tar sands that are abundant in Alberta, Canada, the Air Force will be forced to rely upon dangerous and unstable regions of the world for its fuel supply. Since the scientific rationale for reducing emissions has been largely debunked in recent years, this policy only makes sense for someone who is working deliberately to undercut U.S. interests.

If strictly enforced, the law will not only undermine America’s economic standing, but also its national security.  Canada is currently the largest U.S. oil supplier, government figures show. In 2006, it sent 1.8 million barrels per day of crude oil and 500,000 barrels per day of refined products to the U.S. Almost half of Canadian crude is derived from the oil sands. Section 526 could potentially close off a rich natural resources from stable and friendly neighboring country.

Sen. James Inhofe has led the charge for amendments that would repeal Section 526. Thus far, none have prevailed. In a letter addressed to then Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2008, Sen. Inhofe expressed that Sec. 526 would only serve to further increase America’s reliance on foreign energy sources. The response from DOD to Inhofe is very telling.

“The Department believes Section 526 is overly broad both in design and application…” the agency wrote in response to Inhofe. “The provision opens the Department up to court or administrative challenges to every fuel purchase it makes, with the inherent potential for an adverse decision that would cover fuels the military already relies on as well as potential reliable sources of fuel that could be developed in the future.”

Instead of paying homage to radical environmentalists who don’t seem to understand post 9/11 realities, congressional leaders should be working overtime to develop domestic energy sources.

Kevin Mooney is a contributing editor to Americans for Limited Government. You can follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinMooneyDC.

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