WASHINGTON – The Energy and Agriculture Departments and the U.S. Navy will invest up to $510 million over three years to promote the production of biofuels for marine and aerial transportation.
“Biofuels are an important part of reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil and creating jobs here at home,” President Barack Obama said in a communique released Tuesday by the White House.
“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,” he said.
The project will focus on “drop-in” biofuels, so called because they can be processed using current refining and distribution infrastructure.
Advanced biofuels are liquids with high energy content obtained from crops requiring low levels of fertilizers and have high productivity per hectare (acre), as well as from agricultural and logging waste plus other biomass matter including algae.
Some experts believe that advanced biofuels will soon outstrip corn-based ethanol as a component of the fuel supply for transportation in the United States.
The joint plan presented Tuesday foresees substantial participation by private industry, whose investment will at least equal that of the government.
The United States spends more than $300 billion a year to import oil.
In a conference call with the press, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said that the nation at present does not have sufficient capability to produce advanced biofuels.
“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,” Mabus said. EFE