Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sen. Collins absence allows Pentagon biofuels ban to advance

The US Defense Department is in the midst of a series of pilot projects to reduce the military's fossil fuel needs. Under the Operational Energy Strategy program, the Pentagon has been installing solar panels at remote bases in war zones and experimenting with the substitution of various biofuels in aircraft and the escort vessels of aircraft carrier groups.

The biofuels programs are under fire from Congressional Republicans on account of their additional upfront cost. The GOP-controlled House passed measures to effectively kill them earlier this year, but it is expected to have trouble in the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Democrats.

Nonetheless, similar measures passed a key Senate committee by a single vote on May 24. Which brings us to today's story.

Earlier this week, Politico's Morning Defense flagged a perplexing development: according to roll call votes, the measures passed the Armed Services Committee because of the sudden and unexplained absence of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) who has said she supports the biofuels effort. What happened? Read what I was able to learn in today's Portland Press Herald or the (front page of the) Kennebec Journal.

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