Conservationists and biofuel manufacturers have reacted with concern to the news that America's military spending bill will this year include a provision that exempts it from biofuel usage. The vote was passed last month by 282 votes to 138.
The National Farmers' Union explained that military adoption of biofuels had been a powerful source of support for fresh technologies that were otherwise being blocked from reaching the main transport fuel markets by big oil firms. They said too that biofuels were a vital source of support to energy security of supply by reducing import dependence and supporting the government's climate change targets.
The President of the American NFU, Roger Johnson, said that it was 'disappointing' to see ongoing attempts to remove biofuel obligations through the formal process for defence appropriations, and he said that he hoped to see more positive steps being taken in future.
However, America's military is still showing ongoing commitment to biofuel use. After the vote was passed, the Navy confirmed a press and officials' visit to the USS Mason, which is fuelled party with biofuels. In the press release, a senior naval official explained that sustainability was the ultimate goal, alongside strategic considerations that allowed the Navy to become better and stronger. He spoke about the use of biofuel as a weapon in this sense, as it removed a national vulnerability over fuel imports.
America has had mixed fortunes with biofuels to date, with concerns over Big Oil's pressure at policy level, the shift from food farming to fuel farming and subsidy variability. However, the positive steps of the military to remain a key customer for the technology, combined with increasing moves to develop biofuel products which use waste ground rather than arable land, offer an optimistic view for the sector's future.