Defense bill preserves military biofuels program

“There is no limiting language in there. It looks favorable at this point and I commend the administration for the hard line it took,” Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association, told The Hill on Tuesday.

A House-Senate negotiating group unveiled the compromise bill Tuesday afternoon. House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said the bill is scheduled for a Thursday House vote, is expected to pass the Senate and will hit President Obama's desk Friday.

Republicans in the Senate and the House had previously added amendments to the authorization bills that blocked the military from spending on biofuels.

They argued the fuels were too expensive with sequestration set to shave $500 billion from the Pentagon's budget through the next 10 years. And others, such as Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), said the Energy Department — not Defense (DoD) — should be investing in such fuels.

The conference report showed the bill includes a caveat on biofuel refinery construction, though McAdams said that likely would have no impact.

The bill would bar DoD from spending on refinery construction in fiscal 2013 without securing matching funds from the Energy and Agriculture departments.

Those three agencies cemented a cost-share agreement in 2011 through a memorandum of understanding for the Defense Production Act, which authorizes military spending on biofuels.

Stephanie Dreyer, spokeswoman with the Truman National Security Project, said Agriculture already has the funding for the Defense Production Act. She also expressed confidence that Energy would live up to its commitment through the memorandum of understanding.

Dreyer said the construction language likely was designed to satiate Republicans who are concerned DoD might pick up a disproportionate amount of the biofuels tab.

“We see this as a win,” Dreyer said. “This new compromise language will allow DoD to move forward with its clean energy agenda unscathed.”

DEFCON has more on the $633.3 billion defense authorization bill here.

- Ben Geman contributed