Nebraska’s biofuels industry may soon get a big boost. The U-S Departments of Agriculture and Energy and the U-S Navy are planning to work with the private sector to produce advanced aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation.
The plan calls for investing $510-million over the next three years in the partnerships.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says it will require a one-to-one match cost-share from private industry.
Vilsack says this is unique because it combines the resources of three federal departments to address all of the risks associated with getting the industry to a point where it can deliver the product on a reliable, sustainable basis.
He says the plan creates economic opportunities in rural areas of the country that have historically had high poverty and high unemployment.
U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Maybus says this new proposal uses the Defense Production Act.
Maybus says the act says if industries are not existent in the U-S, but are vital to national security, then the government can help those industries get off the ground. Maybus says the biofuels would reduce the Navy’s reliance on foreign oil.
Nebraska is already the nation’s number-two producer of the biofuel ethanol, made from corn. Iowa ranks first.
Ag Secretary Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, says the plan could be used by companies in Nebraska and across the country.
Vilsack says they hope to see quite a bit of interest, as they are providing resources for the construction of the commercial size plants, help with the feedstocks and a “ready made” customer in the U-S Navy.
The new fuels would use everything from wood chips to grasses and wheat stock to make biofuels, with the goal of creating a renewable source of fuel.