Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif. --
The Marine Corps might not be known for its initiatives in green technologies, but that could be because the average person doesn't know much about them.
Actually, all federal agencies are mandated to go green, reducing use of resources and greenhouse gas emissions, and often saving money in the process. Several Executive Orders, including the latest in 2015, Executive Order 13693 have resulted in such initiatives, as well as the creation of the Environmental Management System to assure compliance and to consider environmental impacts in mission decisions and operations.
Tim Hutzley, fleet manager at Southwest Regional Fleet Transportation, Yermo Annex of Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif., said meeting the goals set forth in these orders can sometimes be a challenge. The Marine Corps is trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by four percent in the first two years, to 15 percent in the next six years, reaching a target of 30 percent by 2025.
"We are converting from gasoline and diesel, to compressed natural gas, liquid propane, ethanol, biodiesel, and electric," he said. Those conversions have been ongoing, with some of the new technologies working well, and others taking time for the industry to work out the problems. For vehicles that can't be retrofitted to accept alternative fuels, buying vehicles made to run on more efficient fuels is one of the major ways to meet the target of reducing petroleum-based fuels.
Hutzley added, "Our requirement for 2025 is to have 20 percent of the 127 over-the-road vehicles (that can operate outside the base) as hybrids. And replace the rest when possible with smaller better, technologically advanced vehicles."
According to Hutzley, more than half of the base's gasoline type vehicles run on E-85 fuel, meaning 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, which cost $3.18 a gallon compared to unleaded gasoline at $3.21. California's consumer summer blend unleaded gasoline has only 10 percent ethanol. "The upside," he said, "is we are cutting our dependence on foreign oil as well as cutting our greenhouse gas emissions, which are the main reasons for using alternative fuels."
Most diesel vehicles on base are running with a blend of 20 percent biodiesel. Biodiesel is typically made from corn, but can also be distilled from other vegetable and animal fats as well as algae, said Hutzley. "Biofuels are renewable, produced in the U.S., and often cheaper," he continued.
Several years ago the Marine Corps leased 15 all-electric Chevy Volts and Nissan Leafs. But because MCLB Barstow was more than 100 miles from a repair facility - beyond the range allowed by the Government Services Administration - they ended up on other bases, said Hutzley. However, MCLB Barstow does have 132 all-electric vehicles in the fleet. Most are Global Electric Motor carts, seven are forklifts, and four are manlifts.
Consumer-grade hybrids, however, are a good compromise. The base has three, for base commander Col. Michael L. Scalise, the Marine Corps Police Department, and SWRFT. The requirement in the EO 13693 is to acquire at least 20 percent of the fleet as hybrids over the next several years, meaning approximately 20 vehicles.
Off-road equipment is also a good candidate for alternative fuels. "Ninety percent of the forklifts, as well as the warehouse tractors and one manlift, run on liquid propane," said Hutzley. They carry a separate propane tank which can either be refilled at the pump station there, or can be switched out when empty.
There is also a compressed natural gas refueling station for two trash trucks, a dump truck and a line maintenance truck, but it does take awhile to fill the tank. "These trucks can be left overnight for refueling," he said. "A lot of buses and trash trucks in cities run on CNG."
Of the 349 vehicles at MCLB Barstow, 311 of them run on alternative fuels. Such fuels are not only cost-effective in the long run, they decrease dependence on foreign oil and foster sustainable practices important to national security. As President Barack Obama stated in Executive Order 13693, "Pursuing clean sources of energy will improve energy and water security, while ensuring that Federal facilities will continue to meet mission requirements and lead by example."
Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow is charging hard (pun intended) to do its part. It is just one of the many initiatives that help the Marine Corps be a good steward of the Nation's resources.