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(Washington, DC) – As Americans struggle to afford near record high gas prices, Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee rejected a proposal to increase funding for alternative fuels programs at the Department of Defense by $63 million. The committee rejected the alternative fuels amendment offered by Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO) by a vote of 25-30 during debate on a bill to authorize programs at the Defense Department in 2007.
“To improve real national security, we must improve our energy security. My amendment would have taken two steps in that direction by boosting funds for advanced power technologies and for alternative fuel infrastructure at military bases. As the single largest buyer of fuel in the U.S., the Defense Department has an opportunity – even an obligation – to lead the way in diversifying our energy portfolio. And no time could be better than the present. America’s addiction to oil from any source means that our security is vulnerable and will continue to be until we have the vision to look beyond the gas pump,” said Udall.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD), a strong proponent of exploring alternative fuels for our national and economic security, expressed support for the Udall amendment today. He said Democrats will continue to fight to increase funding for alternative energy programs at DoD when the House of Representatives debates the defense authorization bill on the floor next week.
“Ending our addiction to oil is a matter of national security,” said Hoyer. “Our nation cannot be secure as long as our economy can be held hostage by fluctuations in the price of oil. We must invest more in alternative fuels immediately, and the Defense Department, as the single largest buyer of fuel in the U.S., must be a significant part of that effort. I will join with Rep. Udall on the House Floor next week to push for more alternative fuels funding in the Department of Defense Authorization bill.”
Udall’s amendment shifts $63 million from $2.8 billion proposed for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) missile program to the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC), which buys and manages oil and other energy supplies for the military services, and to the Advanced Power Technology Office. The funding would be used to install and convert more pumps to handle alternative fuels at military bases around the country and to integrate advanced power technologies into the military’s vehicles and support equipment.
The amendment would cut $63 million for the last ten of fifty interceptor missiles. Udall said investing $63 million in the missile system in 2007 doesn’t make sense—both because the system has at best a mixed record of success and because these extra ten missile were intended to be based at a third GMD site in Europe that has yet to be identified or funded.
“I don’t see how it would make sense to invest $63 million in FY07 in unnecessary missiles for a non-existent site. The bottom line is that this is a question of priorities. Whether or not you believe spending millions on GMD makes sense, I think most would agree that right now it makes more sense to spend this money to improve our energy situation,” concluded Udall.