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U.S. Navy goes green

The U.S. Navy today announced the largest government purchase of "drop-in" biofuel, a green energy replacement for diesel fuel in ships and jets that will be used during a major naval exercise next summer in the Pacific.

Navy Secretary Ray Maybus says the $12 million purchase of 450,000 gallons of biofuel will power aircraft and ships deployed for the Rim of the Pacific exercise (RIMPAC), the world's largest maritime exercise held every two years.

It's all part of a "Green Fleet" demonstration, he says, to prove the viability of a 50-50 blend of biofuels and diesel as "a very viable concept."

Maybus says the Navy's goal is to use a similar biofuel blend to deploy and power a carrier strike group on a multi-month deployment by 2016. 

Maybus made today's announcement on a conference call with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as part of the administration's push to greater utilize biofuel technology in military and commercial transportation.

This biofuel purchase by the Defense Logistics Agency, however, is only a drop in the bucket for the U.S. Navy, which uses more than 1.26 billion gallons of fuel each year.

But both Maybus and Vilsack argue it's an important step in making the nation more energy independent.

"The use of fossil fuels is a real threat to national security, and the Navy's ability to protect the nation," Maybus said.

Maybus and Vilsack also touted the jobs created in the farming and biofuel industry as the U.S. government increases its reliance on green fuel technology.

According to Maybus, the department did not have to ask for additional money for the project, since the funds came from the normal course of business of Navy research and development.