U.S. President Barack Obama announced this week 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.
“Biofuels are an important part of reducing America”s dependence on foreign oil and creating jobs here at home,” said President Obama in a prepared statement. “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. The administration says this effort will help address energy security and national security challenges, and will provide economic opportunities in rural America.
According to Vilsack, building a national biofuels industry will create construction jobs, refinery jobs, and economic opportunity in rural communities throughout the country.
The joint plan calls for the three departments to invest a total of up to $510 million, which will require substantial cost share from private industry—of at least a one-to-one match. The administration says this partnership aims to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil and create jobs while positioning American companies and farmers to be global leaders in advanced biofuels production. The United States spends more than $300 billion on imported crude oil per year.