In order to decrease the country’s reliance on foreign oil and to provide job opportunities and shrink greenhouse gas emissions the U.S. Government is planning to boost production and usage of Biofuels.
On 21st October, Tom Vilsack, the Agriculture Secretary, declared that the government would recompense farmers who grow nonfood crops, which could be converted into fuel to be sold at fuel stations. Almost 75% of the initial costs would be taken care of by the government for those farmers who enter this program. He further mentioned that federal assistance would be available for the construction of five new bioenergy plants and an equivalent amount set aside to obtain storage sites and 10000 biofuel pumps, which are to be installed in the coming years.
Just a week before this announcement the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) stated that fuels having 15% ethanol (E15) would be sold for new cars, light trucks and autos of model year 2007. In the future EPA might also sanction usage of E15 in 2001 model vehicles. According to the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels need to be produced per year in the U.S. by the year 2022, indicating that the current production must be tripled. Higher blends of ethanol obtained by mixing regular gasoline with a corn-based component should be made available with additional fuels obtained from other crops.
A trade group comprising of producers, The Renewable Fuels Association, gave a ballpark figure of 10.6 billion gallons for the amount of ethanol utilized in the U.S. in 2009, which in turn led to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 16.5 million tons. Creation of around 400,000 U.S. jobs was the additional benefit of the production of renewable fuels, toting up $53.3 billion to the gross domestic product.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Agriculture Department have signed a five year plan to produce crops that could be converted into jet fuel for use in the airline industry. Vilsack affirmed that the need of the day is to have a clean environment, better economic opportunities and energy security. The nation should focus on developing biofuels from grasses, wood, nonedible parts of plants, biobutenol and cellulosic ethanol. He requested Congress to extend the tax credit given to ethanol producers, which terminates by the end of 2010. Criticism has also been given by some environmental groups who feel that not all biofuels provide significant reduction in emissions, and that the taxpayers’ money was being squandered by such programs. The EPA states that almost 20% of the emissions are reduced by using corn based ethanol when compared to the traditional gasoline, while advanced biofuels almost double or triple the reduction estimates. Vilsack feels that energy consumption with a predicted growth of 50% by 2035, the nation must take recourse to biofuels.