Yesterday, President Obama announced that our Departments will jointly invest $510 million over the next three years to develop the domestic capacity for advanced biofuels. The funds will be leveraged with at least a one-to-one private industry match to construct or retrofit advanced biofuel plants to produce drop-in aviation and marine biofuels that will power our military’s ships and aircraft and our commercial transportation fleet. For the first time, our Departments’ efforts have been put behind a single project to help create the new energy future and new energy economy set out in the President’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future (pdf) issued this March.
As the President said yesterday at the White House Rural Economic Forum in Iowa, “We're going to do more to speed the development of next-generation biofuels, and we’re going to promote renewable energy and conservation.”
Creation of a domestic biofuels market will:
* Create jobs and economic opportunity. By building or retrofitting biofuel refineries, we will create economic opportunity in rural America in the construction, refining, and in the industries that provide the feedstocks. Every year, the United States spends over $300 billion on imported crude oil. As the American biofuel market grows, more and more of that investment will be made here, in our rural communities, for our country.
* Improve our national security by reducing reliance on foreign oil. Today our military forces depend far too much on fossil fuels. This dependency creates strategic and tactical vulnerabilities to military operations and, as we have seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, it affects the safety and security of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines in combat. One in every fifty convoys in Afghanistan results in an American service member guarding that convoy becoming a casualty. Creating home grown sources of alternative fuels will improve our national security.
* Demonstrate advanced technologies and American ingenuity. Our scientists and engineers are the best in the world, and through creation of a biofuel market, we will support the development of a new, rural-focused industry to replace imported crude oil with secure, renewable fuels made right here in the United States.
This is a step forward. Soon, our Departments will engage private industry in this initiative to create opportunities for rural America, make our nation more secure, and create a new energy future and new energy economy for our country.
Article by Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture and Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy.