Sunday, January 2, 2011

Pentagon burns bio-fuels to secure fossil fuels; more of both come from Africa

The Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet flew over Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. on Earth Day, April 22, 2010, powered by a blend of 50 percent biofuel and 50 percent kerosene-based jet propulsion fuel.  The FA-18F  is a new generation of the  FA-18s, which include the FA-18Es that fly over San Francisco each October, on Columbus Day, during the Blue Angels Air Show.   In 2010, San Francisco's Fleet Week and Blue Angels Air Show, which comes to the City every October at the City of San Francisco's invitation, showcased Boeing's new AH-64D biofuel-powered attack helicopter

Walnut Creek, California based Eco-Fuel Global is a world leader in the new biofuels industry. Opponents of its biofuels planting projects, in Africa and other parts of the Global South, argue that cropland should be used to grow food, to feed people, not to grow more combustible fuel, and that its jatropha biofuel crop is highly toxic.

On New Year's Eve, KPFA Radio News aired this report on the Pentagon's consumption of both fossil fuels and biofuels, and Africa as a source of both: 
KPFA Radio News, 10.31.2010:

KPFA News Anchor Anthony Fest:
The US military uses far more fuel than any branch of the American government, and the US Air Force uses far more fuel than its other branches. On December 20th, Defense Industry Daily, a trade publication reporting military purchasing news for defense procurement managers and contractors, reported that the Defense Logistics Agency had issued over 1.5 billion dollars worth of fuel contracts this month. Africa peace and social justice activists say that more and more of the fuel consumed by the U.S. military, and by other U.S. consumers, comes from Africa. KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story.

KPFA/Ann Garrison:
The Defense Logistics Agency typically issues large sets of fuel contracts over concentrated periods during the year, but continues to issue fuel contracts all year long. Defense fuel purchases are typically frenzied during the month of March. In March 2009, DLA fuel contracts totaled $5.5 billion. This month, as of December 20th, the agency had issued over $1.5 billion fuel contracts.

Africa activists have pointed out that more and more of the fuel consumed by the U.S. military and other American consumers comes from Africa, and that Africa has surpassed the Middle East as a source of U.S. oil imports. Liberian/American Emira Woods, of the Institute for Policy Studies, says that this is confirmed by Department of Energy statistics:

Emira Woods, Liberian American scholar, activist, and 
editor of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute 
for Policy Studies in Washington D.C.
Emira Woods, Institute for Policy Studies:
That's from the Department of Energy tables. They come out at the end of each year. So they're about to come out now for 2010. At the end of December they'll come out for 2010. It's basically looking at those Department of Energy oil imports. So for Africa, it's about 24%. From the Middle East, it's varied over the years, from 21 to 19, since 2008.

Organizations like the US Army Corps of Engineers, and the Brookings Institute have raised concerns about meeting the U.S. military's huge demand for fuel in the future, and both coal-to-liquid transportation fuel, and biofuels have been proposed as substitutes. The U.S. military is already the largest consumer of Coal to Liquid transportation fuel, mostly purchased from the South African SASOL corporation. And in March, 2009, Aviation Week announced, that U.S. Air Force officials would acquire more than 300,000 gallons of biofuels for use in a 50-50 mix with kerosene-based jet fuel by 2013.

In "Biofuels and Neocolonialism," a group of six scholars writing for the Pambazuka News said that biofuels had caused, quote, "a new and massive land-grabbing scramble in Africa, unprecedented since the fall of colonialism, claimed to be justified by fears of global climate change."

The San Francisco Green Party's Eric Brooks has long spoken out against such claims:

Eric Brooks, of Our City, a San Francisco community
activist organization, and the San Francisco Green Party. 
Eric Brooks, San Francisco Green Party:
We all know that the main reason the U.S. military exists in its massive state right now is to go around the world and grab places that have fossil fuel and guard that fossil fuel, so that we can get it and use it and corporations can sell it. And, it's just really twisted logic to burn crop-based bio-fuels to go grab fossil fuels like oil.

Mozambique, Burkina Faso, and many other African countries have rejected biofuels, and an American biofuels corporation, EcoFuel Global, has stirred anger with its biofuels project in Rwanda, where land is scarce, population is dense, and people are hungry.

For Pacifica-KPFA Radio, I'm Ann Garrison.

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