Vilsack Addresses Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference

Farm Furures  • Posted: Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack delivered the keynote address at the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. Tuesday. He told those assembled that less than half of our transportation fuels are imported today, down from about 60% when President Obama took office. However, Vilsack says the President’s goal is to reduce net fuel imports by one-third by 2025 and says more can be done to support the growth of advanced biofuels production.

Vilsack also took this opportunity to announce that an Advanced Biofuels Industry Roundtable will be held on May 18, 2012 in Washington, D.C. The event will be a joint effort of the USDA, Department of Energy and the Department of Navy.

“Advanced biofuels are a key component of President Obama’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy to limit the impact that foreign oil has on our economy and take control of our energy future,” said Vilsack. “By bringing together farmers, scientists, and the private sector to produce fuel for the American military, we can help spur an industry producing biofuels from non-food feedstocks all over the nation, strengthen our middle class, and help create an economy built to last.”

The May 18 roundtable will focus on efforts to accelerate the production of bio-based fuels for military and commercial purposes. Last year, USDA, and the Departments of Energy and the Navy announced that – through the Defense Production Act – they will collaborate to accelerate the development of advanced, drop-in aviation and marine biofuels and marine diesel to help power our military. Participants in this roundtable will discuss next steps for those interested in pursuing the production of aviation biofuels and marine diesel. Topics will include production, distribution and contracting, and best practices. This roundtable follows a “match making” event hosted last week at USDA headquarters to promote connections between agricultural producers of energy feedstocks, and biorefineries.

“The Biofuels Industry Roundtable will produce the market and industry expertise necessary to develop a domestic biofuel market capable of producing alternative fuel that is cost-competitive with traditional fuel,” stated Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. “The Departments of Navy, Agriculture, and Energy are investing in an existing private industry to spur growth, and each department will closely monitor how that investment is used to achieve the president’s objectives.”

Developing advanced drop-in biofuels is a part of the comprehensive strategy to reduce America’s dependence of foreign oil. As part of that strategy, and at Secretary Vilsack’s direction, USDA is working to develop the national biofuels industry producing energy from non-food sources in every region of the country. They are conducting and encouraging research into innovative new energy technologies and processes, helping companies build biorefineries, including the first ever commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities, and supporting farmers, ranchers, and businesses taking risks to pursue new opportunities in biofuels.