HONOLULU, Jan. 10 – Seventy years after Japanese fighters attacked the U.S. Navy stationed in Pearl Harbor, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack showcased new efforts to power the Navy fleet with renewable biodiesel. 


Pearl Harbor naval base was the first Hawaii military marine fleet to use biodiesel in 2009, replacing the Department of Navy-operated tour boats that shuttled visitors to and from the USS Arizona Memorial with five new boats capable of running on 100% biodiesel. The biodiesel is produced by Hawaii-based Pacific Biodiesel, Inc. which created one of the first biodiesel plants in the United States in 1996.

In January 2010, USDA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to encourage development of advanced biofuels and other renewable energy systems.

By 2020, the U.S. Navy wants 50 percent renewable energy consumption for their fleet, with at least 50% of their shore based operation using renewables.
Last summer, President Obama announced an investment in the private sector of up to $510 million during the next three years to produce advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation.  Last month, USDA and the U.S. Navy announced that the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) signed a contract to purchase 450,000 gallons of advanced drop-in biofuel, the single largest purchase of biofuel in government history. In addition, USDA recently announced five major research projects aimed at developing biofuels.

Vilsack toured the Pacific National Monument's Pearl Harbor Visitor Center Tuesday and rode on a shuttle boat named after his great uncle, Commander Cassin Young. The young Iowan was serving on a repair boat moored next to the USS Arizona and was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his valiant efforts to fight the enemy and save his boat along with his fellow sailors.
Shuttle boat moves visitors to the USS Arizona memorial in Pearl Harbor

The Secretary noted that advancement of renewable energy is particularly important to Hawaii, which currently relies on imported fossil fuels for over 90% of its energy needs.


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