Coal currently provides roughly half of U.S. electric power, but the coal industry and many Republicans have pushed for development of plants that can make transportation fuels from coal — an effort that environmentalists fiercely oppose.
Hicks instead touted the prospect of next-wave biofuels made from sources like camelina crops, corn stover and algae that can help reduce the military's massive — and expensive — thirst for oil.
“The U.S.-based companies comprising the advanced biofuels industry ... are currently producing or will soon be producing fuels across a spectrum from the tens of thousands of gallons to the tens of millions of gallons per year,” he said.
The military has an array of programs to use alternative fuels in planes and other vehicles.
“For every $1 rise in a barrel of oil, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps pay more than $30 million. We don’t have that money to spare. Every extra dollar we spend on fuel is a dollar we don’t spend on operational requirements or on training and equipping our sailors and Marines for the jobs they need to do,” Hicks said.
The Energy and Power subcommittee is reviewing a sweeping energy bill sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). The bill, which has more than 70 co-sponsors, would open vast offshore areas to oil-and-gas drilling, and require permitting of scores of new nuclear reactors over 30 years.
The bill also opens up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil drilling; steers substantial federal revenues from ANWR and offshore development into a trust fund for renewable power projects; and blocks EPA climate-change rules, among other provisions.