USDA — along with the Department of Energy, and the Department of Navy — will co-host an Advanced Biofuels Industry Roundtable in Washington D.C. on May 18, 2012 as the next step in the partnership with the private sector to produce advanced biofuels to power military and commercial transportation. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement during his keynote address to the Advanced Biofuels Leadership Conference.
"Advanced biofuels are a key component of President Obama's 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy to limit the impact that foreign oil has on our economy and take control of our energy future," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "By bringing together farmers, scientists, and the private sector to produce fuel for the American military, we can help spur an industry producing biofuels from non-food feedstocks all over the nation, strengthen our middle class, and help create an economy built to last."
"The Biofuels Industry Roundtable will produce the market and industry expertise necessary to develop a domestic biofuel market capable of producing alternative fuel that is cost-competitive with traditional fuel," stated Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "The Departments of Navy, Agriculture, and Energy are investing in an existing private industry to spur growth, and each department will closely monitor how that investment is used to achieve the president's objectives."
The May 18, 2012 roundtable will focus on efforts to accelerate the production of bio-based fuels for military and commercial purposes. Last year, USDA, and the Departments of Energy and the Navy announced that – through the Defense Production Act – they will collaborate to accelerate the development of advanced, drop-in aviation and marine biofuels and marine diesel to help power our military. Participants in this roundtable will discuss next steps for those interested in pursuing the production of aviation biofuels and marine diesel. Topics will include production, distribution and contracting, and best practices. This roundtable follows a "match making" event hosted last week at USDA headquarters to promote connections between agricultural producers of energy feedstocks, and biorefineries.
In 2008, America imported 11 million barrels of oil a day. By the end of last year, that number dropped to 8.4 million barrels per day. In the last year alone, in part because of booming U.S. oil and gas production, more efficient cars and trucks, and a world-class refining sector that last year was a net exporter for the first time in sixty years, we have cut net imports by ten percent – a million barrels a day. And with the new fuel economy standards the President announced last year, we are on pace to meet our goal by the end of the decade. Developing advanced drop-in biofuels is another part of this comprehensive strategy to reduce America's dependence of foreign oil.
As part of that strategy, and at Secretary Vilsack's direction, USDA is working to develop the national biofuels industry producing energy from non-food sources in every region of the country. We are conducting and encouraging research into innovative new energy technologies and processes, helping companies build biorefineries – including the first ever commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities – and supporting farmers, ranchers, and businesses taking risks to pursue new opportunities in biofuels. Along with Federal partners, we're establishing an aviation biofuels economy, and have expedited rules and efforts to promote production and commercialization of biofuels.