The U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy announced today they will invest up to $510-million during the next three years in partnership with the private sector to produce advanced aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation. The plan will require a one-to-one match cost share from private industry.
Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, joined his counterparts for the announcement. Vilsack says this is unique because it combines the resources of three 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.
Vilsack says the plan creates economic opportunities in rural areas of the country that have historically had high poverty and high unemployment. Navy Secretary, Ray Maybus, says the proposal uses the Defense Production Act.
He 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. Vilsack, the former Iowa governor, says the plan could be used by companies in Iowa 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 the biofuels, with the goal of creating a renewable source of fuel.
The announcement was made in a conference call as part of the president’s economic development tour.