September 23, 2014

Feds launch new boost for biofuel development

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack

The federal government is announcing a new effort to drive development of biofuels through a $62-million-investment.

The White House says a key part is $30-million in federal funding being made available to speed development of biofuels to replace diesel and jet fuel consumed by the military, commercial aviation and the shipping industry.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says there are some in Congress who don’t want to see this happen.

Secretary Vilsack says the Navy, the U.S.D.A. and the Department of Energy are working to build a drop-in aviation-marine fuel that is bio-based.

He says it would be great for farmers and for the Midwest, but there’s opposition to the plan from some House and Senate Republicans. Vilsack says he’d “rather create jobs in the Midwest than in the Middle East” and adds, the Navy is behind the plan.

“The Navy clearly doesn’t want to be dependent on foreign sources of energy to fuel their planes and ships that they have, so we’re going to move forward on this,” Vilsack says.

He’s now hoping with the announcement of the $62-million investment that they can identify a couple of companies that are willing to help create the new industry. Vilsack says there are some commercial airlines that are also interested in the plan.

He says he’s talked to some of the main airlines and plane manufacturers and they are excited about the concept.

Nebraska is the nation’s number-two ethanol producer, behind only Iowa.