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Thu, Aug 18, 2011

White House Announces Biofuel Initiative

USDA, Department of Energy and Navy Partner to Advance Biofuels to Fuel Military and Commercial Transportation

President Obama on Tuesday announced that the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy will invest up to $510 million during the next three years in partnership with the private sector to produce advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation.  The initiative responds to a directive from President Obama issued in March as part of his Blueprint for A Secure Energy Future, the Administration’s framework for reducing dependence on foreign oil. The biofuels initiative is being steered by the White House Biofuels Interagency Work Group and Rural Council, both of which are enabling greater cross-agency collaboration to strengthen rural America.

“Biofuels are an important part of reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil and creating jobs here at home,” said President Obama. “But supporting biofuels cannot be the role of government alone. That’s why we’re partnering with the private sector to speed development of next-generation biofuels that will help us continue to take steps towards energy independence and strengthen communities across our country.”
 
Increased use of advanced biofuels is a key component of the Administration’s energy security agenda, but there is currently a lack of this manufacturing capability for next-generation drop-in biofuels in the United States. To accelerate the production of bio-based jet and diesel fuel for military and commercial purposes, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus have developed a plan to jointly construct or retrofit several drop-in biofuel plants and refineries. This effort will help address energy security and national security challenges, and will provide economic opportunities in rural America.

“America’s long-term national security depends upon a commercially viable domestic biofuels market that will benefit taxpayers while simultaneously giving Sailors and Marines tactical and strategic advantages,” said Navy Secretary Ray Mabus (pictured). “Today’s announcement not only leverages our home grown fuel sources to support our national security, but it also helps advance the biofuels market, which ultimately brings down the cost of biofuels for everyone.”

Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association (ABFA), said the Obama Administration should be commended for demonstrating great foresight as it continues to make smarter investments in drop-in advanced biofuels, investments that will ultimately strengthen America's economic and national security.  "Advanced biofuels will deliver ready to use replacement fuels for jetfighters, battleships, as well as commercial airliners and cars on the road today," he said. "The Administration's investment in commercializing advanced biofuels is a matter of national security. As we see new biorefineries going online it is essential that Washington continue to recognize not only the need, but also the promise and desire to see advanced and cellulosic replacement fuels come to the market."

The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, also commended the announcement. "This initiative is crucial to help turn the promise of advanced aviation biofuels into reality, enhancing America's energy security and reducing greenhouse gas emissions while creating jobs," said ATA President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio (pictured). "We already know how to produce and safely fly aviation biofuels, so the government investment will help clear the last hurdle and make the fuels commercially viable.

ATA said it remains committed to doing its part through its ongoing initiatives, including the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI), the Strategic Alliance for Alternative Fuels with the U.S. military, and the Farm-to-Fly program with the USDA and Boeing, to further the development and deployment of sustainable alternative aviation fuels. "The USDA, the DOE and the Navy are doing what the federal government did in jump-starting the Internet, satellite systems and other backbone infrastructure – working with industry to help make these ventures self-sustaining," Calio said.

"The White House Biofuels Interagency Work Group has done a thoughtful job of recognizing how important biofuels production is for national defense. Energy independence is indeed a national security issue,” stated Brent Erickson, executive vice president of the Industrial & Environmental Section of The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). “Our nation’s military is as much at the mercy of high oil and gasoline prices as the average consumer. In addition, it is imperative that our services have access to domestically produced fuel in order to avoid supply disruptions. Drop in advanced biofuels produced in small, strategically located biorefineries can be an important ‘force multiplier’ by increasing the military’s ability to operate where needed and reducing the costs and the number of combat forces necessary to protect energy supply lines.

“The Navy and Air Force have already worked with biofuel producers to test and certify that advanced biofuels meet the exacting requirements for performance and cost established by the military," Erickson said. "By sharing the costs of building or retrofitting biorefineries to produce advanced biofuels, using existing funding and acquisition authorities, the USDA, DOE and the Navy can help accelerate their commercial development and ensure availability for military purposes. The military’s leadership can drive the costs down and increase availability for the commercial sector. This action will help move forward the commercialization of advanced biofuels and will further help develop the biofuels market. We need a basket of policy options to get the advanced biofuels industry to a large scale, and this joint effort is one more step in the right direction.”

FMI: www.whitehouse.gov, www.advancedbiofuelsassociation.com, www.airlines.org, www.bio.org

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