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U.S. Senate Gives Navy Biofuel Program A Second Chance

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The USS Yorktown, hosting a college basketball game earlier this month.

Checking in on broader energy trends:

The U.S. Senate has voted to give a U.S. Navy alternative energy program a second shot. A $170 million effort to convert half of the Navy’s fuel supply to alternative sources by 2020 was torpedoed by both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees earlier this year. Both panels passed legislation barring the Pentagon from spending more money on biofuel and other energy sources than it would have on traditional ship fuel.

But as Wired reports, the Senate voted earlier this week to reverse course and repeal that language. More from the site’s “Danger Room” blog on the factors leading to the legislative change of heart:

But several things changed after the legislative defeats. The Navy ran a successful, if limited, test of their biofuels during a brief demonstration sail of the “Great Green Fleet,” an alternatively powered carrier strike group. They pledged never to overpay for biofuels, ever, while the Solyndra scandal slid off the front pages. Behind the scenes, groups like the Pew Project on National Security, Energy and Climate lobbied lawmakers. Then, of course, President Obama won re-election. That left Republicansa little less eager for budget-cutting measures, and Democrats a little more inclined to back the president, who had strongly and vocally supported the biofuel push.

On Wednesday, the Senate voted to strip away the anti-biofuel amendment, 62-37. Republicans John Barrasso, John Thune, Roy Blunt and Jerry Moran. So did Susan Collins, who missed the May vote on biofuels in the Armed Services Committee — allowing the amendment to pass by a single “yea.”

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