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Letters: Greening the military

November 21, 2013
  • Algae-derived jet fuel is inspected at a Houston refinery. The Pentagon is investing millions of dollars in such alternative fuels.
Algae-derived jet fuel is inspected at a Houston refinery. The Pentagon… (Solazyme )

Re "Pentagon's green push has price tag," Nov. 18

The U.S. Navy pioneered the transitions from wind to coal and coal to oil. In the 1950s, it began to use nuclear power to maintain its global advantage. Not one was considered economical at the time, but then economies of scale eventually made these advancements plausible.

The Navy is committed to getting half of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. A good share of that will come from sustainable, carbon-negative biofuels, accounting for more of the roughly 1.26 billion gallons of fuel the Navy consumes each year.

Perhaps the detractors of innovation who so righteously consider "sufficient benefits" should also take into account the cost of a gallon of gas — and add the price of war, political upheaval and the loss of life and property associated with climate change.

Rick Conrad


The Pentagon recognizes the importance of energy independence and the urgent need to replace conventional energy with renewables. Fossil fuels — coal, oil and natural gas — are becoming ever more disruptive and dangerous to produce. Furthermore, they are imposing a huge unpaid cost on the world by way of contamination of land and water and, worst of all, climate change.

Even as Congress denounces subsidies on renewable-energy projects, it continues to subsidize the fossil fuel industry with at least $10 billion a year. This is truly perverse.

A rational approach would be to place a fee on carbon production that reflects its costs to society (with proceeds rebated to individual households to offset price increases) so that the free market can work its wonders.

The public should understand that groundbreaking research is tricky and many projects will fail. But that is the only way to a clean, sustainable energy future.

Grace Bertalot



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