Section 526 – for a "Green National Defense"

Guest opinion by David Archibald

“Men” said Charles Mackay in 1841,”go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.” Recovering from groupthink is a slow process, as evinced by Section 311 of the National Defense Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2017 which was passed on 18th May, 2016.

Section 311 on page 139 simply says:

Rule of Construction Regarding Alternative Fuel Procurement Requirement

This section would amend section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Public Law 110–140) to clarify that this section shall not be construed as a constraint on any conventional or unconventional fuel procurement necessary for military operations.

The Section 526 referred to says:

Prohibits a federal agency from entering into a contract for procurement of an alternative or synthetic fuel, including a fuel produced from nonconventional petroleum sources, for any mobility-related use (other than for research or testing), unless the contract specifies that the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production and combustion of the fuel supplied under the contract must, on an ongoing basis, be less than or equal to such emissions from the equivalent conventional fuel produced from conventional petroleum sources.

This section was included in the 2007 bill largely to thwart the Defense Department’s intentions to acquire coal-based jet fuels. So a bill with a title that suggests it is about promoting energy independence and security was doing the opposite of that. Section 526 was the work of Congressman Henry Waxman representing California’s 30th District. Wiser heads wanted to repeal Section 526 straight away via amendments to the 2008 National Defense Authorization Bill. That didn’t happen. Efforts to repeal were ongoing and the White House noted the totemic importance of Section 526 in 2011.

Back in 2011 the oil price might have been conducive to a synthetic-fuel-from-coal effort. A cheap start might have been to convert the Great Plains synthetic natural gas plant in North Dakota to making diesel and jet fuel. Instead that plant is now being converted to make 380,000 tpa of urea. Now a synthetic liquid fuels plant will have to be built from scratch with the big capital cost items being the liquid oxygen plant and the coal gasifiers.

Nevertheless, Section 526 has been repealed after eight years of trying. A couple of other attempts in the National Defense Authorisation Act of 2017 to undo the madness of prior years did not get up. Roll call vote no. 2 (page 644) would have:

Description: Prohibits funds for executive order mandates from 2013 and 2015 related to green energy benchmarks, climate change boards, councils, and working groups and inclusion of climate change review throughout DOD operations, acquisition, logistics, and planning.

That was lost 29 to 30. Roll call vote no 3 (page 646) would have:

Description: Prohibits DOD from using FY17 funding for the construction or refurbishment of a biofuels facility, subject to a national security waiver.

That was lost 29 to 32.

The good news is that attempts to undo the damage are ongoing. This is in an environment in which President Obama has directed that commanders of naval bases be rated upon how much they promote global warming in their commands. And there are also reversals in the march of progress. In Australia the government-funded CSIRO had fired 61 climate scientists because “the science was settled” and therefore there was no use for them. The recently re-elected government has ordered the CSIRO to rehire 15 of these witchdoctors. Geopolitical events might sweep all such nonsense away before the year is out.

David Archibald is the author of Twlight of Abundance.

84 thoughts on “Section 526 – for a "Green National Defense"

      • Human nature being what it is,,, the catastrophic event of today is forgotten the day after tomorrow.
        I would think that the Donald’s team will play the” Pillary go to jail card” at the appropriate moment. And then the world will see how s//t is shoveled in American politics. With millions of embarrassed Democrats hiding under the bed come polling day.

    • She will sell those out in a heartbeat .
      I expect there to be an “Open for business” sign on the whitehouse lawn 2 minutes after she is elected.

  1. I don’t really see climate freakiness in those paragraphs, more SOP US government politics and industry wishywashyness. Technically any research into alternatively sourced fuel sources is the domain of DARPA and __NEVER__ beholden to a military budget qualification of that nature. This seems to be more to keep the actual military from engaging in boondoggles that will have no useful outcome of any kind.

  2. Shall we have a kill quota for air conditioners ? Those air conditioners are sneaky. You gotta watch em. They blend in with houses and businesses pretending to be all innocent, when we know the real truth.
    They’ll make movies about the daring endeavors of our armed forces going after air conditioners. Wiping out air conditioners, one at a time. Sigh! A new combat Ribbon!

    • There’s no problem with aircon… aircon use exactly matches availability of solar power… solar will power the aircon.

      • Never been in The South on a hot humid summer night, I take it……
        One needs air conditioning even at 3 AM… Despite my best efforts at turning the darned thing off in that Alabama hotel last week, sleep required it on, so I used ear plugs….

      • max aircon use is during daylight hours…
        and you can always get a tesla battery – or use solar CSP

      • That’s not a 100% solution, Griff. It’s barely even a 70% solution. Air conditioning is necessary even in the rain and at night. If not for cooling, for dehumidification. Mold growth is only kept in check by routine cleaning and constant dehumidification.
        For my qualifications on this matter, I suggest you read my handle.

      • Tesla battery? Really? You are going to take a power source that is already 10 times as expensive and add storage to make it 20 times as expensive.
        You really must hate people.

      • Max building cooling load is normally 17:00 to 19:00 solar, which is several hours after peak solar.

      • Wrong again. You would need a solar conversion efficiency well above 50% in order to provide enough power to cool all those homes and businesses on a hot day. There are a lot of losses along the way from the solar plant to the air conditioner, and the sun is really good at heating up all those buildings. There is currently not even a theoretical way to get those kind of solar conversion efficiency numbers, so “improving technology” is not an answer. You can’t get there if you don’t even know which direction to head in.

      • Yeah, Griff. Let them eat cake.
        That’s another refrain I often hear from progressive/greenie elitist-types: ‘They can just… do without, use less, eat less, use something else, move, or whatever … basically check for what we approve of before you try and live on your planet.’
        Of course, if you don’t we’ll prosecute you, slander you, regulate you out of business, etc. Let this not be construed as a choice.
        I totally get why they cut off Antoionette’s head.

      • “aircon use exactly matches availability of solar power…”
        You’ve never been to the tropics, have you?

  3. Only one way out for our American friends “Donald” , as for us Aussies I notice The one nation party now has four senate seats which is a start .
    Pauline much like Trump can be a bit erratic but with the counselling of others hopefully the load can be shared , one things for sure is now she is established her vote will increase in the next election .

    • “Pauline much like Trump can be a bit erratic”. I am no Trump supporter per say (I wish the Americans had better stock), but that erratic behavior does not bother me like some. Living in a business environment and as a Project Manager myself, minute by minute, you are constantly adjusting. What seems erratic is the pro/con game being played out on TV (unfortunately), he has no control of it. He is not a ‘schooled’ politician with a ‘cool’ plan that he will stick to come hell and high water, he’s a businessman running for politics. Some don’t like it because it makes them feel uncomfortable. Visit any boardroom in a high stakes venture, you are not coming out un-offended if you have a definite opinion. That is him in a nutshell as I see it. Today you are the best employee, tomorrow your Fired!

  4. Hilary may decide to downsize the American naval fleet back to sail powered , imagine that an aircraft carrier powered by sails !

  5. Heck wasn’t it the Germans (way back about 1944) that had to resort to converting coal to oil so they could power their air force and tanks…
    Reminds me of the MASH (copyright, this should be covered by “fair use”, I think) episode where the US Army General is explaining how they are hiding their ammo dumps by their hospitals because the enemy won’t think to look there. The General says; “We learned it from the Germans in WWII”, and then Hawkeye quips; “Oh Great, now we are taking lessons from the losers…..”
    Yeah, that’s exactly what you want to fight a war with, expensive, unreliable energy…. Heck the other guys would never ever use fossil fuels against you, it would ruin the climate….
    Cheers, KevinK

  6. Me thinks peak stupidity has been reached and now they are just trying to outdo each other’s stupidity .

  7. Geopolitical events might sweep all such nonsense away before the year is out.

    Oh crap! China is looking to pick a fight in the South China Sea and Australia looks like a prime target.
    Australia should be thinking seriously about energy security. As the linked article points out, China could easily prevent tankers from getting to Australia. Time to redevelop the oil shale. Time to start prosecuting enviro-loonies as enemy agents.
    China is a lot more capable now than it was during the Korean War. I can’t think of any way this would end well.

    • A united front of all the nations affected by China’s creeping aggression is the best way to handle them.
      China may be pushing their aggression envelope extra hard now and in the next few months, because they know they can bully Obama, and they own Hillary (no doubt they have a copy of her server). But if Trump gets in, their bullying window of opportunity may close pretty fast. Trump will be holding the threat of Japanese nukes over the Chinese heads so they will proceed cautiously with him.

      • I believe Trump understands the wariness Russia has with its new relationship with China and would forge a better relationship with Putin to counter China.

      • Also, the Chinese are a practical people. They might want expansion, but they aren’t going to openly move agaisnt Australia or anyone else in the Anglosphere. Tick off the country who is their biggest customer and their biggest rival? In a way that would alienate all of their neighbors and potential allies? They aren’t stupid.

    • Australia is floating in oil, coal and natural gas, and the biggest supply of artesian water on (under) the planet. Raw resources are not the problem, we just need them to be developed and processed locally.

    • hmm?
      or is a NON signatory to the seas pact hint USA shitstirring the UN via p pines..and geeing up morons like the termite bishop to mouth off re sending boats etc into the area they claim?
      chinas not said or seemingly intended thing one re blocking anything
      theyre a big trade partner for Aus
      of course if you want to try n flog markets with TPP deals then souring the good relationship we have with china, is in usa interests.
      id say chinas worried re the almight Hegemony usa thinks it has,
      because usa could block their vital trade routes.
      curious how usa goes the long way round across all asian areas for oil?
      when you could use the other coast?

  8. So we lose the war and become slaves to the Chinese or Islam. So what? After all, we have saved the planet for the winners. Anyway, isn’t martyrdom all the rage these days? Just ask Frank in Rome as his flock of sheeples are slaughtered. He is convinced that we all seek peace, even those who say they will kill us all.
    Tell me again that we, the people, deserve this, or have I fallen down a rabbit hole (along with Alice) into a completely bizarre world?

    • When “elite” Harvard students don’t know an actual working definition of “racism” or “xenophobia” and social media blather is the rule of law (there is no such thing as an “illegal”) then it’s just a matter of time for complete decay. After all the rule is that a civilization in it’s prime has a limited lifespan and the West is about to meet theirs based on those in charge at present and those in line to run things. So it’s definitely the “rabbit hole”; just sit back and marvel at the psychedelic mental states of civilization going down, down, down……

      • But I do not want to see civilised life go down. I see every reason for optimism given our grasp of technology, yet all this stupid negativity and fear mongering ignorance that is inducing a decay in life is completely incomprehensible. Doubtless you see the point.

      • It is very comprehensible.
        The Elite want more power, money, and ownership. Freedom offends them and real competition reduces their ‘take’. So, via The Club Of Rome, they cooked up the “Running Out!!!” scare and published it via the book “Limits To Growth” by Meadows et. al. in the 1970’s complete with the use of bogus computer predictions, oh, pardon, projections…
        They have been milking this via subsidy farming and NGO money laundering ever since.
        They don’t care if civilization is damaged, as long as they win.
        It is easier to herd the masses with fear than reason.

      • @ Barry and E. M. Read the ( and watch) an interview with a Muslim that converted to RC and was part of the Brussels crowd on, he has been close to the top and a well respected French citizen ( ex Egyptian with very high connections if half of what he says is true it is worse then you think. ( sorry Barry understand your point of view but reality can be cruel).

  9. If an army were in possession of more ‘advanced batteries and energy storage technologies’ it would’nt tell that via official paper.

    • True. But they do not. Been there, done that. Got near $3 mil grant on this, 2/3 to ONR– google rail guns as one non-classified hint about what is important. I had no security clearance, so there always a lot of people showing up at our nonclassified energy storage materials meetings with no business cards…

  10. I wonder if Obama was similarly concerned about the fuel source or climate change impact of the unmarked jet that flew 400 million dollars to Iran; or if that ‘mission’ trumped (he hates it when I use that word) national security?
    Yeah, I know, stupid question.

    • Ah, Tom, are you referring to B. Hussein Obama ? in about 3 months we are going to find out about the first Muslim president

  11. When reading this, it at first sounds like they are against bio-fuels. But then upon further reading it gets muddled. What are they for, what are they against? I don’t know cause it sounds like legalese…Why don’t they just say what it is they want, or don’t want?

    • JP,
      For the future, the Department is pursuing a wide variety of fuel and energy alternatives to promote and maintain a strong national defense, including solar, wind, advanced batteries and energy storage technologies, biofuels, coal-biomass-to-liquids, geothermal, waste-to-energy, and marine energy.
      That’s what the U.S. forces want. Solar and wind. And besides priorities. Too.

  12. US armed forces are one of the larger users of solar power… reduces the amount of diesel you need to ship into a theatre of operations… highly effective.

  13. the top priority is that U.S. forces have the energy they need to get the job done, solar, wind and so on. + some
    ‘advanced batteries and energy storage technologies’ would be good.

  14. Chemical explosives release CO2 into the atmosphere and should be banned. Atomic warheads would be greener but we don’t really want a nuclear winter. Back to bows and arrows, swords, spears, lances, battle axes etc. After all, if they were good enough for generals of the calibre of Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Julius Caesar etc. they should be good enough for anyone.

    • Samson was pretty effective using the jawbone of an ass*, Roy. Took out a large number of pesky Philistines with that weapon.
      (*Hmmm… didn’t realize there were CAGW advocates back then. History is often incomplete.)

    • How about “Green” propellant systems for nuclear-tipped missiles?
      An Evaluation of Green Propellants for an ICBM Post Boost Propulsion System
      How nice to know that when we have a nuclear war, at least the missile propellant will be ecologically friendly, isn’t it?

  15. That’s why the Department of Defense is investing in efforts to use less fuel in the first place;
    maybe biofuels, if it’s cheaper. And good stuff.

  16. I like the idea of ‘advanced batteries.’ If we can just get the capacity up to high enough levels, we won’t need nukes anymore. Just set a short and throw the batteries at the enemy. Gigajoules are your friends, until they come to visit.
    /yep, sarc, just for in case folks can’t figure it out.
    Or, . . . is it?
    Am I kidding?
    Or, am I kidding about kidding?
    How recursive would anyone like to get?
    Ouroboros, anyone?

  17. Section 526 started a whole industry effort on evaluation of GHG emissions from all fuel sources. Although directed at Coal-To-Liquids (CTL), it hit oil sands from Canada as well. There are a number of reports on this including work from the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) by Ken Kerns and others showing that many crude oils have much higher GHG emissions for processing than the average crude.
    (I tried to google some of the references I have on my computer on this, but it seems some have been disappeared from the NETL site.)
    What is really interesting is that very thorough analysis of all impacts of ethanol from corn shows that the GHG emissions for EtOH may be higher than for conventional gasoline. One must include all impacts such as albedo change, N2O emissions, fertilizer run off to the Gulf of Mexico creating a 200 mile dead zone of the coast of Mississippi, etc., in the analysis to be complete.
    This is a very poorly understood area (GHG emissions from biological sources) and the “science”, if you can call it that, is constantly changing so the results change as well. What was thought to be a good alternative fuel with low GHG emissions is now a poor choice for any number of reasons. But the DOE still funds hundreds of projects that are trying to produce fuels from biomass sources but none are commercially viable.

  18. Here is another use of robots and automation. Set them in motion spewing propaganda nonsense while going about the real work of national defense. That will solve it and further confuse the North Korean missile offensive teams.

    US Navy promotes alternative fuel during “world’s largest naval drill”
    “The alternative fuel that will be used during RIMPAC is derived from waste beef fat from the Midwest. Alternative fuels can be made from animal waste oil, algae, or non-food crops. The fuel must be “drop-in,” requiring no modifications to engines or procedures. Having alternative fuel in the supply chain increases operational flexibility by allowing forces to obtain fuel from more sources worldwide.”

    • To moderators: Please excuse my many links. I know multiple imbedded links cause instant moderation therefore added work on your end. I wish to thank you for all you do to make this site the leader in its field. However, the links enhance this post and I saw no way around them.
      OK Mr. Griff, I’ll play along with your fantasy of an Alternate Fuels for Armed Forces future, with a slight scenario twist, albeit a twist that is surely plausible if not inevitable in today’s world. Picture the US Naval Fleet (including the Marine Corps – Semper Fi!) and the US Air Force and the US Army, idyllically plying the various waters of the world, flying supply and recon sorties, training for land conflicts in a DoD world of dwindling Congressional funding for tactical vehicles also aircraft purchase/support and overall manpower (is manpower still acceptable language? For those that just freaked out, the following underlined section of this sentence is thereby deemed your ‘safe zone’_________. You have my written permission to sit there until you can wrap your mind around what I am typing. You are welcome).
      The Free World Saviors, saving the planet via Power Projection, as well via Alternate Fuel use from whichever source. The fuel supply chain has been, in my scenario and by Executive Order (neatly bypassing Congressional oversight) altered to include a large percentage of these Alternate Fuels (called so because they are Alternatives to conventional solid and liquid hydrocarbon-based fuels). All is well; ships sail; planes fly; electrical systems function; radar and satellite monitoring systems are assuring no ‘problems’ exist – in peace time.
      All is well until one or many antagonists decide to alter the world stage, in my scenario many countries at once on many theaters or fronts. All-out war hits without advance warning – from the air, sea, and land (the antagonists are not important; in this make believe scenario, the following potentiality is). All of the various branches of the Armed Forces must switch – overnight – to a wartime footing.
      Bringing this make-believe scenario back to the issue of a creeping requirement for armed forces to produce, ship, and utilize Alternate Fuels. War begins; the USA must accordingly shift its remaining CONUS (Continental United States) production capabilities (any OCONUS or Outside CONUS production supply lines have been severed, to include any foreign oil shipments the exception being Canadian Oil imports) to producing that which supports the war efforts via all Armed services on all fronts (the fronts include Asia; Europe; Alaska for now) should we decide to not merely concede the war fronts to the antagonists (group hug, anyone?) and actually enter into resistance conflict.
      Tracking along, Mr. Griff? Good let’s continue. As of 2016, the following link shows the oil imports from OCONUS sources: (remember in my scenario the Canadian supply still exists; the rest – kaput). The current consumption of Distillate Fuels is around 20 million barrels per day:
      The sitting POTUS immediately opens the Strategic Oil Reserve to meet the demand for Armed Forces use: This Reserve gives the USA about 36-38 days of emergency oil flow. Canada continues to export oil, about 40% of current imports (how important is Canada???). The USA produces its own oil:
      And that’s it. Strategic Reserves, US domestic and Canadian import. Enter refining capacity.
      Back of the envelope numbers (I expect fact checkers to correct any errors – thanks in advance):
      Wartime availability, current values
      USA domestic: 8,460,000 barrels/day
      Canadian Import: 1,200,000 barrels/day
      Strategic Reserve: *cannot tell from available internet information the extraction and delivery capabilities in bbl/day for this oil source – help?
      Refining capacity: 18,300,000 barrels/day
      The question remains, how quickly can the USA get oil to the refineries and by which method? Apparently the refining capacity exists; it is the transportation from supply to refinery that may be a bottleneck (in this scenario, how vital for wartime oil delivery would the Keystone Pipeline project have been??).
      So, Mr. Griff – Do you see any wartime scenario where expensive to produce, Alternate Fuels would serve the USA Power Projection Platforms (US military forces)? The shelf-life of most Alternate Fuels is very short:; even the DoD acknowledges this fact:
      So – Peacetime military Alternate Fuel production, storage, distribution, and use? Being done now, at added cost (expect Mr. Griff to throw in some verbiage regarding economies of scale or some such). And, only being done via Executive Order, to appease the fiction of CAGW scenarios that may or may not ever occur. While the potential for all-out war on many fronts is a real threat (see: world history). So, Mr. Griff – awaiting your response. Go for it. To me, when on a war footing, Alternate Fuel sources for military use are pretty much non-starters, let alone viable for the long haul.

      • Darn the “patient” on my anti-gravitational machine only needs another $12,500 million in grants and you are blowing the whistle !

  20. Under this section of the law, what happens if it is demonstrated that ethanol creates more “lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions associated with the production and combustion of the fuel” than conventional petroleum sources? It would seem that this section requires all providers of ethanol-blended gasoline to conduct such an analysis and that such analyses would be subject to FOIA requests.

  21. I once took a course in ‘Numerical Analysis’, a branch of mathematics devoted to finding solutions to problems. One of the theorems (!) we used was to the effect that adding restrictions to the solution of a problem, or to the method of finding the solution would inevitable impair the effectiveness of the solution.
    The concept generalizes readily.
    If the problem is National Security, adding *any* restriction to the procurement of fuel by the military forces that provide that National Security can only impede their ability to perform the mission.

  22. As an international blog with writers from a number of english-speaking countries, it would be helpful if post like this about specific laws would please specify up front which jurisdiction you’re talking about. In this particular example, it’s not obvious until paragraph 4 that the context is the US (and even then, only because I recognized Waxman’s name). Thanks.

  23. In local news:
    “PENDLETON, OR – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and Oregon Senator Bill Hansell joined the Oregon Military Department in officially dedicating the new 150-kilowatt solar panel array at the Oregon Army National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility (AASF #2) at the airport in Pendleton, Oregon, August 4”
    So how does solar work in eastern Oregon?
    The other day I read the annual report for EnergyNorthwest. Lots of facts and figure about generation from wind and nuclear and the associated costs. They bragged about running the nuke plant 683 days without shutting down (breaker to breaker).
    ENW installed a PV system some years ago. At the time you could monitor on line output from from various ENW sources but not anymore. The annual report only mentions that they have a solar demonstration project.
    So what was demonstrated? They do not say. Of course not, solar does not work very well around here.

  24. A666ottSatan may or may not have got 300 fired (it’s possible the CSIRO independently worked out these penguin counters were achieving nothing). St Malcolm of Oxford St gets 15 rehired – looks like a “progressive” hero.
    I’ll take that deal every time. In every dept.

  25. The human race has gone absolutely bonkers, Waxman is a prime candidate for a mental institution. As to Michael Roberts lengthy scenario. It would relatively simple , (if we are ever to go on war footing) to de-stabilize the North American energy supply system , a few bridges here and there, a few power, pipe, and telecommunication lines, cell tower removal and the whole “Home Defense” system would simply collapse. But we would be doing the same thing to “Them” as well. I personally think that the downfall of the West is already happening ( mass illegal immigration for example and the push everywhere for Sharia Law) and as far as I can see it will be at the internal civil levels as in riots and martial law etc. Frankly to me the attack by the left on western constitutions is a far greater threat than a war.

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