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At a time when Congress is looking to cut the budget, the DoD is pleading for $517M USD in extra funding to keep up with the soaring costs of crude oil.  (Source: Tatan Syuflana/AP)

Without extra funding, the U.S. Air Force could be grounded and unable to defend the nation.  (Source: USAF)

The U.S. DoD is hoping that biofuels will hold the key to safe, cheap fuel in the long term.  (Source: California Polytechnic State University's Controlled Environment Agriculture & Energy Working Group)
Soaring gas prices have hit defense budgets, and served as a reminder of the volatility of oil

Between Iraq and Afghanistan alone, the U.S. Department of Defense needed an enormous amount of fuel last year -- the U.S. government uses 20 to 50 million gallons of fuel every month in Afghanistan to support operations. In fact, of the $15B USD it spent on fuel, 75 percent went towards operations, such as the efforts in these Middle Eastern nations.  

I. Massive Demand, Soaring Costs

The thirstiest branch of the armed forces was the U.S. Air Force (USAF).  They used $8.1B USD in fuel, including $7B USD in costs for jet fuel.  The USAF burned through 54 percent of the DoD's fuel budget, sipping 2.5 billion gallons of fuel.

The aforementioned figures come courtesy of Air Force assistant secretary for installations, environment and logistics Terry Yonkers.  Speaking at the Pew Charitable Trusts in Washington, Asst. Secretary Yonkers expressed alarm at rising fuel costs and the impact they might have on the nation's ability to defend itself.

At a time when Congress is looking to slash the budget, the DoD is requesting an injection of $517M USD in extra cash to keep up with rising oil prices.  According to the request, the price per barrel of oil rose from $127.26 in April to $165.90 by June 1.

In reality, that $517M USD will likely not be nearly enough to cover the 30 percent higher costs, considering that 30 percent of last year's budget totaled almost $5B USD.  But facing a cuts-minded Congress, that may be the best the DoD can hope for. 

The DoD is running on empty and desperately needs a solution in the long term to secure the nation in the face of continually rising fuel costs.  Asst. Secretary Yonkers believes the answer lies in biofuels, like algae-based oil.  Currently biofuels are quite expensive, costing $40 to $50 USD per gallon.  Given that there's about 45 gallons of petroleum products in a barrel of crude oil, petroleum was at approximately $3.69 USD/gallon, or roughly 1/11th of the cost of biofuel.

However, as biofuel production ramps up, costs are expected to greatly decline.  Asst. Secretary Yonkers greets that possibility with optimism, stating, "If they'll produce it, we'll buy it."

II. Biofuels v. Domestic Drilling

New biofuels like algae have an advantage over other alternative fuels like ethanol, in that they contain the larger hydrocarbons necessary for jet fuel and other high-energy blends.  In that regard, they're quite similar to petroleum products.  Because of that, 98 percent of the USAF's aircraft can run on a biofuel blend (though the allowed amount of biofuel in the blend is application-dependent).

One obstacle is that while the DoD commands a substantial stake in the U.S. fuel market, it's still a small player in terms of total demand.  Last year it reportedly accounted for 2 percent of the nation's fuel budget.  That is a large amount, but it also represents how much the DoD needs the other 98 percent, which includes civilian and corporate use, to support biofuel development.

In the short term, the U.S. could look to domestic drilling options to try to drop fuel prices.  However, there are issues there too.  Most "easy" fuel in the U.S. has already been extracted -- much of the remaining fuel requires complex extraction procedures.

Some studies indicate that extraction from oil shales and their ilk can be done safely, with minimal environmental impact.  But as NPR's "This American Life" points out, this research is often biased by the fact that top petroleum research universities are dependent on petroleum grants for funding and are afraid to publish negative studies.

The actual impact of domestic drilling may be significantly higher than the oil and gas companies would wish the public to believe, as evidenced by recent environmental damage in Appalachian rivers, and the recent earthquakes that struck Arkansas when natural gas injection wells appeared to disturb local fault lines.

On the other hand, there may be cases where the costs outweigh the benefits, and domestic drilling makes sense.  After all, environmentalists often paint an equally biased picture, albeit with less financial resources.  The truth, as is typical in such debates, likely lies in the middle.

At the end of the day, though America faces the real issue that its domestic petroleum supply is a finite product and will run out -- sooner or later.  That leaves America dependent on foreign oil, which is volatile both in price and in politics.

The tough question is what to replace the oil with.  

III. The Long Term View

Biofuels seem an attractive alternative, given that they only require sunlight, typically (as most are plant based) and can produce high-octane fuel blends resembling petroleum products.  Further, these blends typically are cleaner, with less sulfides and nitrides than typical petroleum fuel.

Of course the DoD could also look to nuclear fission power, combined with EVs to greatly reduce its transportation related fuel consumption in the short term.  Such a suggestion might have trouble flying in nuclear fearful America, though.

In the long run fusion may also provide a possible alternative energy source for defense transportation.  But the problem of energy storage is likely to remain for some time.  Unless researchers can develop a fusion reactor small enough to fit in a jet, or a battery vastly more energy-dense than today's designs, the only solution is a chemical fuel.  And the choice for chemical fuel today are pretty much oil, ethanol, or biofuels.

The DoD thinks biofuels are the most attractive of those choices to use in defending the United States.



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RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Iaiken on 7/11/2011 11:59:21 AM , Rating: 4
Try to know what you are looking at next time.

From the same site:

http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/piechart_2011_...

The single highest federal expenditure is defense, so his statement is true.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By thejedislayer777 on 7/11/2011 12:04:25 PM , Rating: 3
With welfare being apart of the Health and Human Services Department, I am still right. So, please, don't take things at face value.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By thejedislayer777 on 7/11/2011 12:09:45 PM , Rating: 3
RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Iaiken on 7/11/2011 12:15:47 PM , Rating: 2
Way to move the goal post.

Trying to lot welfare in with health care because the department has the word "health" in it's name is academically bankrupt.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By thejedislayer777 on 7/11/2011 12:32:27 PM , Rating: 2
I fail to see how it is "moving" the goal post when welfare is directly tied into HHS department? I never said anything about health care alone, you just assumed I was pointing that out from the pie chart on said website. HHS is a parasite, which eats more than the defense budget, so don't try to discredit me by claiming I'm moving the goal post by implying I was only talking about the healthcare proportion. If we're only looking at HHS from the healthcare standpoint, you and the other guy are right, defense does it up more, but not when you account for what other services (welfare) HHS provides.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Samus on 7/11/11, Rating: -1
RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Jeffk464 on 7/11/2011 2:07:28 PM , Rating: 3
Yup, cut it and make it more efficient. My idea, you need foodstamps, you also need norplant.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Solandri on 7/11/2011 10:14:38 PM , Rating: 3
It's off the mark too. As a percentage of GDP, military spending is the one budget item that's been consistently cut over the decades (though to be fair it's ticked up about 1% since 9/11).
http://www.cbo.gov/docimages/35xx/doc3521/352101.g...

The budget item threatening to sink the government right now is Medicare/Medicaid. The recent Democratic pledge to not allow entitlements to be touched in the budget negotiations is downright suicidal. Something has to be changed about entitlements if we want this country to survive. I don't care if we keep them, but allowing them to continue in their present form unaltered is a guaranteed path to fiscal ruin.
http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/104xx/doc10455/Figure1-...

If you think I'm some conservative shill, go read the CBO reports for yourself. Look at the raw budget numbers without any political rhetoric or spin, and decide for yourself. See where the problems really are, not where some politician wants you to think they are.
http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=12212


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By FauxNews on 7/11/2011 10:42:38 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
It's off the mark too. As a percentage of GDP, military spending is the one budget item that's been consistently cut over the decades (though to be fair it's ticked up about 1% since 9/11).


Uh, not sure what you're smoking, defense spending has doubled since 9/11, both in real money spent and as a percentage of GDP.
Your "here's a bar graph with no labels" is nice but doesn't say anything.
And this is such a common fact you can google "defense spending doubled since 9/11" and find plenty of results to verify.

quote:
The budget item threatening to sink the government right now is Medicare/Medicaid. The recent Democratic pledge to not allow entitlements to be touched in the budget negotiations is downright suicidal.


Uh, you mean to say that the programs that have taxes funding them are going to sink us, but the military, which has no direct tax linked to it, isn't?

RIGHT.

In the past, wars have typically been accompanied by a tax to pay for the war. That hasn't happened this time.

And defense spending is the sacred cow of the Republicans.
While everyone's cutting, they're giving MORE money to the DoD. Heck, they're even buying planes the military doesn't want!!!

I think when you say they get "cuts", you mean "cuts to massive raises".
Sort of like getting a 25% raise and then having it "cut" by 5%... Sorry it's still a massive raise by anyone's definition.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By yomamafor1 on 7/11/2011 11:06:44 PM , Rating: 2
Well you know how these people believe... Constitution explicitly called for national defense, but didn't explicitly called for social welfare (which includes health, education, etc).

Seriously, people need to stop looking at a 250 year old document about how to run this country in the future.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By geddarkstorm on 7/12/2011 2:19:39 PM , Rating: 2
The Constitution is what -makes- this country this country. Don't want to keep looking at it at how to run this place? Then move to some other nation, you don't belong here. That simple.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2011 11:10:34 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
And defense spending is the sacred cow of the Republicans. While everyone's cutting, they're giving MORE money to the DoD. Heck, they're even buying planes the military doesn't want!!!


Right. Which is why Obama hasn't cut defense spending. Didn't pull us out of Iraq or Afghanistan, but actually raised the troop levels. And he also started ANOTHER new war.

Clearly it's all the Republicans, who weren't in power, making all these decisions.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By yomamafor1 on 7/11/2011 11:22:13 PM , Rating: 2
Iraq: US troop is set to leave by the end of 2011
Afghanistan: US troop is set to leave by the end of 2012

Both timetable set by President Obama, not "Mission Accomplished!" Bush.

Clearly, take your tinted glass elsewhere.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2011 11:29:09 PM , Rating: 1
Timetables shmimetables! He said in "day one" of his Presidency we would be out of the Middle East. He didn't say he would raise troop levels and start more wars did he?

How convenient to set the "timetable" for the end of his Presidency. Leaving a mess in the lap of the next President instead of following through with his campaign promises.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By yomamafor1 on 7/12/2011 12:31:02 AM , Rating: 2
I would like to see the link where he explicitly said he will pull US troop out on the first day of his presidency.

Secondly, the point of the fact is that he set the timetable for troop withdrawl. If he needed a troop surge to meet the timetable, so be it. You can hark all you want when he significantly miss the deadline.

Lastly, you can be a conspiracist and hark about how Obama "conveniently set the deadline" for the next president to clean up his mess, but doesn't change a fact: he is following through with his campaign promise to end the wars during his presidency. Last I checked, Obama still have 1 year left to go.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Reclaimer77 on 7/12/2011 4:49:35 PM , Rating: 1
Oh also, let's add selling arms to foreign nationals to this list. After 20+ years of Democrats bringing up the "Iran Contra" affair, their savior Obama goes and does Operation Gunrunner. Wtf was he thinking!?

I think the only difference is the media reported the hell out of one, and then goes out of it's way to distort and bury the other.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By SPOOFE on 7/11/2011 3:41:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
do you think we should cut walfare and human services in our country

Now THAT'S moving the goalposts, and also an Excluded Middle fallacy.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By thejedislayer777 on 7/11/2011 3:52:26 PM , Rating: 3
You took a related argument between someone else and I, and totally turned it into this? You've got to be kidding me, kid. You know what I think, though, speaking on your agrgument? I think we should start cutting people off of welfare, healthcare, etc, as it's not the government's damned job to provide such things to begin with. Please, before you try and use "provide for the common welfare" in the Constitution as a viable defense, that passage can have many different meanings.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Samus on 7/11/11, Rating: -1
RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Manch on 7/14/2011 1:34:40 PM , Rating: 1
www.dfas.mil/dms/dfas/militarymembers/pdf/MilPayTab le2011.pdf

An E-1 gets an extra 252 per paycheck(bi-monthly) in Ramstein Germany
An E-6 gets an extra 282 per paycheck (bi-monthly)Ramstein Germany

72% of the Air Force are E-6 and below. The other services are similar:
http://www.usamilitaryjobs.com/2011/01/06/u-s-mili...

You can also see the housing data too on the first link.
Huge Salaries? hardly. and yes they do pay taxes


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By tastyratz on 7/11/2011 2:07:49 PM , Rating: 2
I guess for some the 3% funding to education proves it's detriment more than others?

On a related note we really need to ditch the pension system too, no new jobs should be created with pensions. 401k's should be the ONLY option.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By SPOOFE on 7/11/2011 3:42:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I guess for some the 3% funding to education proves it's detriment more than others?

It's a redundant expense and it's caused education standards to plummet. If you throw more money at education and see dropout rates increase, you have a problem.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Iaiken on 7/11/2011 4:00:35 PM , Rating: 2
Now I know you are correlation does not imply causation so what exactly are you trying to accomplish with that statement?


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By SPOOFE on 7/11/2011 4:31:54 PM , Rating: 2
That if you spend money to achieve X, and X isn't achieved, then you wasted money, whether it's a penny or a zillion dollars.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Iaiken on 7/11/2011 4:47:08 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That if you spend money to achieve X, and X isn't achieved, then you wasted money, whether it's a penny or a zillion dollars.


Spoofe, if you don't know what is wrong with that sentence, then there is something wrong with your thought process...


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By yomamafor1 on 7/11/2011 10:58:57 PM , Rating: 2
By that logic, then perhaps entrepreneurs should just quit and cut their losses, since majority, if not all, suffer heavy monetary losses before they get a product right?


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2011 11:31:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
By that logic, then perhaps entrepreneurs should just quit and cut their losses, since majority, if not all, suffer heavy monetary losses before they get a product right?


Umm entrepreneurs take risks with their OWN money. When the Government starts earning it's own money and stops spending ours, maybe your stupid comparison would make sense.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By yomamafor1 on 7/11/2011 11:14:19 PM , Rating: 2
Right, students no longer feel like studying because we spend too much money on education.

That's your logic, not mine.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2011 11:36:18 PM , Rating: 2
I think you should stop using "logic" in all your posts, when none of your arguments actually exhibit logic.

He's not saying that. So no, it's not by "his logic".


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By geddarkstorm on 7/12/2011 2:18:31 PM , Rating: 2
It's not that money is causing it, it's that money isn't stopping it. In short, the issue -isn't- about money in the first place. Something else is broken, and all the money we are throwing at it is being wasted as the system continues to deteriorate. That's the point, and that's also the reality.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Iaiken on 7/11/2011 12:12:02 PM , Rating: 2
What's more, I've debunked individual figure breakdowns on this website numerous times, but I am not surprised it keeps coming up.

On numerous occasions I have demonstrated that the actual figures for past years on that website do not match those of the Government Accountability Office (US GAO).

In the past, numbers have been skewed as much as 23% to support the agenda of the sites conservative creator (Christopher Chantrill). He routinely comes under on defense figures and grossly overstates the cost of social programs.

The real shame is, most people simply take this independent website as "fact" despite it's numerous discrepancies biased towards supporting the conservative agenda.

If you are interested in the real audit figures from the GAO, they are all available on the offices site.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2011 2:12:36 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
The single highest federal expenditure is defense


"Single highest" is quite misleading. We're talking total number of tax dollars spent and what it goes to, not the single highest department. If you removed the entire Department of Defense from the books, we're still looking at nearly a trillion dollar deficit.

Do you even know how to read a pie chart? If 50%+ of our budget was military spending, then yes, you would be right. But 25% is not a majority of tax money spent on the military, thus that argument is invalidated.

Your argument is made even weaker when put in terms of GDP. Military spending in 2010 for the U.S was only 4.7% of our GDP. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_th...
I used the Wiki so you can't trump up some claim of "Conservative bias" like you did to the other site.

If you want to make the argument that we should reduce our spending levels, fine. But the claim that military spending alone is racking up these massive deficits we're facing is completely unfounded and false.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Iaiken on 7/11/2011 2:52:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"Single highest" is quite misleading. We're talking total number of tax dollars spent and what it goes to, not the single highest department. If you removed the entire Department of Defense from the books, we're still looking at nearly a trillion dollar deficit.

Do you even know how to read a pie chart? If 50%+ of our budget was military spending, then yes, you would be right. But 25% is not a majority of tax money spent on the military, thus that argument is invalidated.


Now you're just mincing words, and badly so...

Here are 7 numbers:

4
17
25
11
22
21

I am pretty sure you can figure out which is the "single highest" regardless of whether the appear in a pie or not.

Stop being stupid.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/11, Rating: 0
RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2011 3:09:49 PM , Rating: 2
Iaiken read this quote, then look at your argument. Then realize how stupid YOU are being.

quote:
With the defense budget taking up more tax dollars than anything else


Notice he didn't say "single highest" department or budget item. He said "tax dollars". Total.

The military does not take up more "tax dollars than anything else". Not even close.

You. Are. Wrong.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Iaiken on 7/11/2011 3:35:59 PM , Rating: 2
What he said:

quote:
With the defense budget taking up more tax dollars than anything else


What you read:

quote:
With the defense budget taking up more tax dollars than everything else


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By SPOOFE on 7/11/2011 3:45:44 PM , Rating: 2
So.... his statement was either wrong or insignificant. That's hardly a sound argument.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2011 6:28:45 PM , Rating: 2
Give me a break, you know exactly what he meant. We've seen the same Leftist talking point argued on DT for years, and it's wrong every time.

Of course military spending is higher than SOME government programs. Are you an idiot? How is that some kind of significant argument? How does that prove that "too much" is spent on it?

Spoof is right. Your argument is choosing between the irrelevant or insignificant.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Iaiken on 7/11/2011 3:34:11 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
But the claim that military spending alone is racking up these massive deficits we're facing is completely unfounded and false.


which is fine because I never claimed that...

In fact, I would argue that shoring up tax incomes is just as important as cutting funding across the board.

If you paid even so much as a penny in taxes for 2010, then you paid more in taxes than General Electric ($3.2B in refunds on $15B profit). The story repeats itself over and over with large multinationals raking in huge profits and paying effectively zero tax.

Figures out of the Harvard school of business suggest that under a simplified tax code the US government could have cut the corporate tax rate to 25% (a drop of 10% to be the lowest of the G20) and still have realized an increase of $60B in revenues for FY2010. Meanwhile, an estimated 78% of businesses, large and small, would have experienced an average tax cut of 9% and tax breaks for struggling companies would have remained entirely unaffected.

Just food for thought...


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By SPOOFE on 7/11/2011 3:47:01 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you paid even so much as a penny in taxes for 2010, then you paid more in taxes than General Electric

So half the country pays the same taxes as GE. I can live with that.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By Reclaimer77 on 7/11/2011 6:50:54 PM , Rating: 3
So increasing the tax burden on those who create jobs is your key to cutting the deficit?

Boy if I didn't know you were a Liberal already that one would sure be a red flag.

By the way you guys are flat out wrong about GE. Of course they paid taxes. You and Jason Mick and everyone else puppeting the New York Times piece obviously can't be bothered to look up the facts for yourself.

What exactly are "federal taxes"? Well there are income taxes, I'm pretty sure GE employees didn't get away without paying those. No matter how good their tax department might be, pretty sure they couldn't work GE's personal liability to zero. State taxes? Yup, pretty sure those were paid. Fuel taxes etc etc? Paid.

GE also lost billions in the financial crisis, which gave them a nice NOL carryforward for the next few years. Again, completely legal. The article gives brief mention to the losses, but curiously, does not quantify how they might have contributed to GE's lower tax bill even though I'm sure GE would have provided those numbers. The treatment of the losses, moreover, is confusingly opaque, and rather buried.

But to simply say "GE payed no taxes" is a gross lie. They generated billions in taxes, and they paid all taxes legally required of them to pay. You and the New York Times seem to think companies like GE have a moral obligation to maximize the taxes it pays. Outrageous!

Stop believing the Leftist media hype.


RE: Maybe I'm confused
By abzillah on 7/11/2011 10:21:19 PM , Rating: 2
How come on one chart it says Education 14% and the other says 3%? Is the education budget that much lower this year than before?


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