May 21, 2012
Credit James Inhofe (R-Okla.) for bringing these matters to the floor of the senate. Senator Inhofe, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, argued that the expenditures are foolish at a time when the military is facing "devastating cuts."
Senator Inhofe went on to say that while he is in favor of more efficient alternatives to fossil fuels that until such have been developed the military should not be forced to use what is currently on the market which can cost four times as much as fossil fuels.
As Inhofe points out, using the military budget to play venture capital with tax payers money comes at a cost to the effectiveness of our military.
"Which would you rather have? Would you rather spend $4 billion on Air Force Base solar panels, or would you rather have 28 new F-22s or 30 F-25s or modernized C-130s?" he asked. "Would you rather have $64.8 billion spent on pointless global warming efforts or would you rather have more funds put towards modernizing our fleet of ships, aircraft and ground vehicles to improve the safety of our troops and help defend our nation against the legitimate threats that we face?"
Of course, the Obama administration is desperate not to have any more Solyndras. One of the companies which typifies the Obama venture capital escapades into biofuels and which received large Navy contracts in the past, Solazyme, is now on the ropes. And just recently the Obama administration slapped a 31% tariff on solar panels from China to stave off domestic solar panel companies from going belly up. It is a desperate move which an IBD article (5/19/12) dubs the "Solyandra Syndrome" and which may just backfire. And, as Panetta may soon find out, playing venture capital with the US military budget will not be the sort of legacy that brings distinction to a Secretary of Defense.