Our country needs a strong, vibrant rural economy. Advanced biofuel production will help create it. Not only will biofuel production from non-food sources create new jobs and new streams of farm income, it will improve environmental quality and reduce our dependence on fossil fuel imported from foreign countries.
Speaking to the members of the National Press Club here in Washington yesterday morning, I explained that the heart of President Obama’s vision for rural America combines new technologies and new markets with better use of our natural resources-more home grown biofuels and renewable energy.
I outlined steps that USDA will take, working with other agencies and the private sector, to reach a national goal of producing 36 billion gallons of biofuel a year in the United States by 2022, with 21 billion gallons coming from advanced biofuel production.
- We will establish five USDA regional biomass research centers and announce, through our Rural Development mission area, funding for the construction of a biorefinery or bioenergy plant in each of the regions. This will occur within 60 days and construction will commence in 2011.
- We will provide the resources to help install, over the next five years, 10,000 pumps that will allow motorists access to ethanol fuel blends that meet their needs.
- We will encourage more use of biofuels in USDA’s fleet of almost 43,000 vehicles.
- We are resuming payments under USDA’s Biomass Crop Assistance Program(BCAP) to encourage producers to grow feedstocks for advanced biofuel production.
- We are entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to work with the airline industry to develop feedstocks that can be processed into jet fuel.
The benefits to the economy from advanced biofuel production are outlined in a new USDA report, issued today, that says biofuel production costs will continue to drop with each succeeding generation of biofuels. The more we make, the less each gallon will cost.
I also want to acknowledge the Environmental Protection Agency for authorizing the use of E-15 in late model vehicles and I expect a decision later this year regarding use of E-15 in older models.
Belief and action are powerful forces to affect change. I believe the President’s vision for rural America compels us to action. I believe in renewable fuel production goals and I believe in the need for improved energy security, a cleaner environment, better economic opportunity and job creation in rural America. Working together, with the support of everyone who calls rural America home, we will revitalize our rural economy and create meaningful opportunities for those who live there.
Article by Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture