Last week’s vote by the Senate Committee on Armed Services failed to recognize the biofuel industry’s potential to revitalize the rural economy, create jobs, boost farm income and reduce America’s reliance of foreign fuel, said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in a media conference call this morning. That vote prohibits 2013 funding to the Department of Defense (DoD) for the production or purchase of alternative fuel “if the cost of producing or purchasing the alternative fuel exceeds the cost of traditional fossil fuel.”
“I hope that people will understand the negative impact this has on rural America,” Vilsack said. He added that this was a committee vote. (As reported in last week’s blog,
several biofuels organizations, as well as the American Farm Bureau Federation, will step up their efforts to encourage the Senate to restore support within the National Defense Authorization Act for the DoD’s commitment to accelerate the production of biofuels for military use.)
The Obama administration will continue to work collaboratively with the private sector to continue to make biofuels cost competitive with fossil fuels. “Government has a role to provide assistance to get industries up and going,” Vilsack said, adding that the oil industry still receives help from the government.
Vilsack added that the U.S. should not be so overly reliant on foreign fuel, pointing out that the country’s enormous supply of biomass offers tremendous capability for producing biofuels.
Also on the media call, Adam Monroe, president, Nozoymes North America, said that based on the history of technological advances in a very short time, he has no doubt that advanced biofuels will be an important part of the economy moving forward.
Just yesterday, Novozymes inaugurated its new enzyme production plant in Blair, Neb., creating 100 new career positions. Monroe added that the new facility created 400 construction jobs. The Blair plant is the largest and most advanced enzyme plant in the country dedicated to existing and advanced biofuels.
With a 48C manufacturing tax credit (of $28.4 million) from the federal government, Novozymes had the confidence to move forward with the $200 million facility in Blair, which will help the company bring its technology online more quickly and push the industry further toward commercialization, Monroe said. Because of how far technological advances have come, Monroe expects that advanced biofuels will be much less expensive to produce than fossil fuels in the future.