The head of the U.S.D.A. says big plans are on the horizon for biofuels. The federal E.P.A. announced last month it would lift the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline from the long-standing ten-percent, raising it to 15%. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack calls the E-15 ruling a “good momentum builder,” for other plans in biofuels.

Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, says, “Expressing a development of new research facilities in all parts of the country to identify alternative feedstocks to expand our supply of ethanol, working to build new biorefineries and providing support for those biofineries in all parts of the country to again, increase demand and supply.” He says the investment in the industry will reap economic rewards.

“By investing back in these rural communities, by creating a biofuel industry that will help to create over a million new jobs, according to the industry, with close to $100-million in new capitol being invested in these rural communities, that’s basically how you build back the middle class,” he says. Iowa is already the nation’s number-one ethanol producer.

The E-15 allowance applies to 2007 model vehicles and newer. Vilsack says the USDA has plans on investing in new research and building biorefineries. “By working to provide farmers with the biomass crop assistance program,” Vilsack says.

“The final rule on that resource is to allow them to defer and defray the expenses of producing those alternative feestocks, of harvesting and storing them and transporting them.” Vilsack says it will provide a much-needed economic shot in the arm.