U.S. ready to invest up to $510 million in better biofuels

Obama Administration Efficiency Goals – click to enlarge

No shortage of news from the Obama Administration regarding energy efficiency these days. Whether it's $50 million for better solar, the first-ever heavy-duty truck efficiency standards or millions for hydrogen research, work most certainly continues. Today, the USDA, the Department of Energy and the Navy announced am investment of up to $510 million over the next three years "to produce advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation." $510 million may seem like a lot when all Washington can talk about is debt and deficits, but the White House points out that the United States spends over $300 billion each year to import crude oil, so think of it more as a money shift than extra spending.

In any case, the money doesn't come for free, though, as the private sector will need to at least match each dollar one-for-one to move forward to produce biobased jet and diesel fuels. Oh, and there's something about jobs in the press release (available after the jump) as well. The White House Biofuels Interagency Work Group and Rural Council worked on the plan, and the Biotechnology Industry Organization released a statement in strong support of the move.
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President Obama Announces Major Initiative to Spur Biofuels Industry and Enhance America's Energy Security

USDA, Department of Energy and Navy Partner to Advance Biofuels to Fuel Military and Commercial Transportation, Displace Need for Foreign Oil, and Strengthen Rural America

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16, 2011 – President Obama today 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. "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."

"By building a national biofuels industry, we are creating construction jobs, refinery jobs and economic opportunity in rural communities throughout the country," said Agriculture Secretary Vilsack. "As importantly, every gallon of biofuel consumed near where it is produced cuts transportation costs and, for the military, improves energy security."

"These pioneer plants will demonstrate advanced technologies to produce infrastructure-compatible, drop-in renewable fuels from America's abundant biomass resources," said Energy Secretary Chu. "It will support development of a new, rural-focused industry that will replace imported crude oil with secure, renewable fuels made here in the U.S."

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 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. Producing a domestic source of energy provides a more secure alternative to imported oil and improves our energy and national security.

In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council to build on the Administration's robust economic strategy for rural America and make sure that continued federal investments create maximum benefit for rural Americans. Administration officials have been working to coordinate programs across the government and encourage public-private partnerships to improve economic conditions and create jobs in rural communities.

President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, providing affordable health care, promoting innovation and expanding the production of renewable energy. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining, and thriving economically.

BIO Applauds USDA, DOE, and Navy Initiative to Partner with Advanced Biofuels for Aviation and Military

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Aug. 16, 2011) – Advanced biofuels represent the best option for meeting the needs of the military and civilian markets; public-private partnerships can build needed biorefineries and bring the technology to the market sooner. The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today thanked Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and applauded the Obama administration's announced initiative to invest up to $510 million to construct or retrofit facilities to produce drop-in advanced biofuels.

"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 BIO's Industrial & Environmental Section. "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. 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."


About BIO

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world's largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. BIO produces BIOtech NOW, an online portal and monthly newsletter chronicling "innovations transforming our world." Subscribe to BIOtech NOW.

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