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|Increasing biofuel production could reduce American dependance on foreign oil.|
Feeling the pain at the pumps? In the United States, it’s commonly held that part of the problem is the country’s dependance on imports of foreign oil. Forty percent of America’s energy comes from oil, with about half of that — close to 10 million barrels of petroleum per day — originating outside the country.
In response to growing unrest about energy prices, the U.S. government, through it’s Departments of Energy and Agriculture, is trying to reduce these imports through increased funding for biofuel, bioenergy, and biobased products from a variety of locally grown feedstocks. $47 million will be used to fund eight research and development projects targeted at supporting economic development in rural America, creating clean energy jobs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Introducing the funding, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack explained, “Permanently reducing our dependence on foreign oil and getting a handle on out of control gas prices will require our brightest scientists, our smartest companies, and strategic investments in research. The projects that we are announcing today will spur innovation in bioenergy by developing renewable resources that produce energy more efficiently and do so in a sustainable way. Advances made through this research will help boost rural economies by developing and testing new processing facilities and profitable, energy-rich crops that U.S. farmers and foresters will grow.”
Energy Secretary Steven Chu likewise expressed his optimism. “The projects selected today will help produce affordable, renewable biofuels right here in the U.S. to power our cars and trucks,” he said. “President Obama set a bold national goal to reduce America’s oil imports by one-third in a little more than a decade. By developing and commercializing advanced biofuels, we will create new economic opportunities for rural communities, provide consumers with new options to fuel their vehicles, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
Funding for the eight projects will be provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Energy’s Biomass Program. If successful, they’ll help widen the scope of America’s energy resources with a greater range of renewable fuels and bio-based products.
Under the programs, recipients of the grant money will contribute a minimum of 20 percent of matching funds for research and development projects, and 50 percent for demonstration projects. Qualifying projects must address three critical areas: biofuel development analysis, biofuel and bio-based product development, and feedstock development.
After a competitive selection process, the Departments chose projects focusing on such areas as generating biofuel from paper mill and forestry waste, drought resistant energy crops, algae, biomass conversion processes, and improved biofuel refinery technologies.
Read Biofuels and Bioenergy: Processes and Technologies from Amazon.