Alternative Fuels Help Green the Pentagon
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., May 2, 2000 As part of “the greening of the Pentagon,” defense officials dedicated alternative fuel gas pumps May 1 at a Navy Exchange gas station here.
The NEXCOM Citgo station next to the Pentagon now pumps compressed natural gas and E-85, an ethanol-gasoline mixture. Sherri Wasserman Goodman, deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security, hosted the ceremony.
“We are happy to be part of the greening of the Pentagon,” Goodman said. “We all want clean air and clean energy. We want to use the size and influence of the Defense Department to encourage the use of alternative fuels.”
The initiative is part of a presidential directive that requires DoD to reduce its motor vehicle fleet's petroleum consumption by at least 20 percent by the end of fiscal 2005.
The station is open to all branches of the government. President Clinton ordered all White House vehicles to gas up with the alternative fuels.
Compressed natural gas is liquid propane. It burns cleaner than regular gasoline and the United States has a wealth of it. More than 1,300 gas stations nationwide pump CNG, officials said.
E-85 is a blend of 85 percent ethanol -- ethyl alcohol -- and 15 percent regular gasoline. It also burns cleaner than regular gasoline. Ethanol is made from cornstarch, and the United States can produce as much as is needed.
“The problem has always been availability,” said Monte Shaw, communication director for the Renewable Fuels Association. “This is the first gas station in this area with ethanol since one closed in 1995.”
While the natural gas cars need special tanks, many service members may already be driving cars capable of burning E- 85.
“All late-model Ford Tauruses, Chrysler minivans and Ford Rangers can use E-85,” said Lynne Hoot, a spokesperson for the Maryland grain producers. “Next year, all Sonoma S-10 trucks can use the fuel also.” The more fuel sold, the more vehicles will be built that can use it, Hoot said.
Nationwide, DoD has about 9,300 alternative fuel vehicles. Plans are in the works for other alternative fuel sites at other installations including Annapolis, Fort Meade and Gaithersburg, all in Maryland. All can be used by the public.
Another plus right now for alternative fuel is that it’s cheaper than gasoline -- $1.219 per gallon for liquid propane and $1.25 per gallon for E-85. compared with $1.489 for regular unleaded at the station.