U.S. Congressional demands to block the federal government from buying biofuels for Department of Defense use threaten efforts by U.S. industry to build a leadership position in a key alternative fuel source for civil air transport, according to Christine Gregoire, governor of the U.S. state of Washington. Gregoire, whose state has emerged as a biofuels center of excellence along with neighboring states in the Pacific Northwest region, has slammed restrictions recommended by the House and Senate armed services committee as short-sighted.
“I’m very disappointed,” Gregoire told AIN. “The fact of the matter is, we were projecting that we were going to be able to develop about five commercial-scale bio refineries around the country. This was seen by [Washington state] as a big opportunity to land one of those.”
The proposed restriction would prohibit the defense department from buying any alternative fuels that exceed the cost of traditional fossil fuel and would take effect in Fiscal Year 2013. Previously U.S. defense officials have shown great enthusiasm for reducing dependence on traditional fuel, but the initiative appears to have become a hostage to the rancorous federal budget battles in Washington, D.C. Gregoire fears it could cost the U.S. the chance to become a market leader in the emerging field. “I find the whole thing quite puzzling,” she said. “There is a clear demand. The commercial arena is pushing and leading on it. Frankly, I would have expected the Department of Defense to lead in this arena, not to follow the commercial sector. I sure hope Congress reconsiders and puts them back in the game.”