Pentagon nominee Hagel endorses ban on high-carbon defense fuels

Section 526, authored by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), was largely aimed at blocking the purchase of coal-based liquid fuels — an industry that hasn’t taken off anyway.

But it has also raised fears about complicating acquisition of fuels from refineries that use oil from Canada’s greenhouse-gas-intensive oil sands projects, which are a growing source of U.S. supply.

House Republicans have passed legislation to exempt the military from the ban, alleging the law could harm energy security. However, Obama administration political appointees at the Defense Department say the law has been effective. Click here, here and here for earlier coverage of Section 526.

Hagel’s answer is part of a wide-ranging, 112-page set of responses to defense policy questions obtained by The Hill. Click here for coverage of Hagel's responses on our DEFCON Hill blog.

On energy, Hagel also backs military programs to expand use of biofuels in defense operations, but he argues large-scale use should only occur when the fuels are cost-competitive.

“It is prudent for the Department to engage in tests and demonstrations that confirm defense equipment can operate on a range of fuels; however, as the Department allocates its limited resources to ensure it delivers necessary warfighting capability, it should only buy large volumes of these fuels when they are cost-competitive with petroleum products,” Hagel wrote.

The military’s biofuels testing program has come under heavy GOP criticism due to the cost of the fuels.