According to a report released by Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), the military's plans to expand its use of biofuel in planes, ships and other vehicles would generate about $10 billion in economic activity and create more than 14,000 jobs by 2020.
But under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that Congress is expected to take up in the next several weeks, the military - the nation's biggest user of oil and gasoline - would be prohibited from expanding its use of biofuel.
Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn (US Navy-RET), president of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), said, "ACORE recognizes the important national security and energy security benefits of the U.S. military's increased use of biofuel. This report from E2 also highlights the tremendous economic potential of the defense biofuels program. It has already attracted private capital for technological innovation and commercial-scale biorefinery construction, thereby creating geographically-diverse jobs. Most importantly, this initiative accelerates America's move to a more diverse and secure energy portfolio."
Photo credit: United States Marine Corps Official Page / Foter / CC BY-NC
E2 commissioned High Road Strategies, an industrial, economic and energy consulting firm, to conduct the study, which is based on biofuel goals previously announced by DoD. According to the report:
- Between $9.6 billion and $19.8 billion of economic activity could be generated by 2020 if the DoD is allowed to meet its previously announced biofuel goals.
- Between 14,000-17,000 new jobs could be created by 2020. If measured on a job-year basis, the total number of jobs created would be more than double that amount.
- Of these jobs, more than 3,000 will be agricultural jobs from biomass production, and about 1,200 will be in biorefinery operation. An additional 10,000 jobs will be created from biorefinery construction.
- These economic and job impacts will be broadly distributed geographically, with the greatest benefits to states that create the strongest incentives for biorefineries.
- In order to meet the military's cost and volume targets, advanced biofuel companies are leveraging $3.4 billion of private capital invested since 2007 to build new commercial facilities.
- Military demand is helping to shape the early market and scale the advanced biofuel industry, which could help the commercial aviation industry and other industries to meet their hopes and plans to expand their use of biofuel.
(For the complete report and for more information about E2's work on military issues, please see www.e2.org.)
Russ Teall, president and founder of biorefinery builder Biodico, which recently signed an agreement to provide advanced biofuels to the U.S. Navy, said,
"The military is the biggest driver of the biofuel industry right now. If Congress stops the military from doing what the military knows is best, Congress also could threaten the growth of the Made-in-America biofuel industry."
Led by the Navy and Air Force, the Department of Defense wants to reduce its dependence on oil by getting as much as 50 percent of its fuel from advanced biofuels by 2020. DoD's top leaders have said reducing the military's use of oil is essential to national security, troop safety and avoiding fuel price spikes.