by Emily Garnett, DTN News Intern
OMAHA (DTN) — Several federal agencies are pushing forward with plans to make commercial drop-in aviation biofuels a competitively priced option for the military and the commercial aviation industry.
USDA, the Navy, and the Department of Energy held a press conference Monday morning to announce the availability of $30 million, to be matched on a one-to-one basis by private businesses, to produce drop-in biofuels. Production will require feedstock production and logistics, conversion facilities, fuel blending, and transportation, according to the FOA (funding opportunity availability) for the project. An additional $32 million will also be made available by the Department of Energy for biofuel research, said Heather Zichal, deputy assistant to the president for energy and climate change.
The funds are made possible by the Defense Protection Act, which dates back to the 1950s and have been used to encourage industries such as steel, aluminum, and titanium in the past.
Companies can apply for the funding by supplying a design and business plan for a commercial-scale biorefinery capable of producing at least 10 million gallons of biofuel a year. The chosen companies will be announced sometime in the fall, possibly in October, according to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. The project’s FOA and requirements can be viewed here: http://goo.gl/….
This action is one more step in the administration’s efforts to boost the biofuel industry and make the military less dependent on foreign oil. “Every time price of oil goes up $1 a barrel, it costs the navy an additional $30 million in fuel costs,” Mabus said. “It’s a vulnerability that we’ve got to address.” Already, the Navy has signed a contract to use 450,000 gallons of jet biofuel, and plans to spend $510 million over the next three years to develop an aviation biofuel supply.
This most recent funding announcement comes as the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act awaits a final vote. House Republicans added provisions to the act that seek to ban the military from spending money on biofuels if they cost more than traditional fuel options. This would essentially ban the military from using biofuels, because currently they are always more expensive than regular fuel.
Earlier this summer, the Truman National Security Project held a press conference advocating that the provisions blocking biofuels be removed from the bill.
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack continues to stress the benefits the biofuel industry could hold for rural economies, since biofuel production could create a market for agricultural waste such as crop residues, in addition to wood waste, energy crops and algae. “The refineries that will be converting this biomass into fuel will likely be located in rural areas, helping to create jobs,” Vilsack said.
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Posted with DTN Permission by Haylie Shipp