Pentagon spent $43 million on gas station in Afghanistan

“No evidence exists that [the Defense task force] conducted a feasibility study before spending $43 million on the station”, Sopko wrote in his report (pdf).

With the inspector general in a stand-off with the department under audit over access to documents, and the Defense Department arguing that their auditor can’t be trusted, it looks like it will fall to Congress to uncover the truth. In addition to integrating off-the-shelf technology into the field, the Defense Department’s various science offices in the Navy and Air Force are funding a good chunk of the cutting edge solar R&D covered by our sister site, CleanTechnica. The shorthand is that the Department of Defense won’t say or doesn’t know, but that gives short-shrift to the story: We know where the records and people are, but a fight between the DoD and its auditor is keeping them out of the public eye. Aside from blips like the aforementioned gas station, veteran-supported projects like Envision’s portable EV charging stations are one of the many reasons why oil dependency needs to hurry up and take its place in the past.

Indeed, it is very curious the DOD does not have an explanation for such a costly project that reportedly had explicit communications with the defense secretary. As reported by our friends over at Vice, the Pentagon chewed through $43 million, nearly none of which has been fully accounted for, to provide a few CNG vehicle drivers in Afghanistan with “the world’s most expensive gas station”.

These “appropriate security safeguards”, as Principal Deputy Under Secretary Brian McKeon called them in a letter to Sopko, “are necessary due to SIGAR’s actions that revealed Personally Identifiable Information [PII] in an unrelated incident”. “There may be corruption”, said John Sopko, special inspector general for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

Despite the Pentagon’s restrictions, SIGAR has documented serious problems with at least one chunk of the $800 million tab.

The whole thing is so unusual and wrongheaded that the crazily high price tag – more than 100 times what a similar facility would cost in neighboring Pakistan – is not even the worst thing the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) found.

Furthermore, the cost of converting a gas-powered auto to run on compressed natural gas “may be prohibitive for the average Afghan”, the report said.

The compressed-natural gas station was created to show the viability of tapping the country’s natural gas reserves.

“This is shocking in multiple ways”. Charles Grassley said in a statement Monday.

The intertubes are a-buzzin’ with news about a new, super-expensive gas station in Afghanistan.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom.

Troops' Privacy at Center of $43M Gas Station Tussle Between Pentagon, Watchdog

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