President Obama Establishes Biofuels Interagency Working Group
President Obama Establishes Biofuels Interagency Working Group; Push on Biofuel Development/Commercialization and Flex-Fuel Vehicle Use
Green Car Congress
5 May 2009
US President Barack Obama has established a Biofuels Interagency Working Group, to be co-chaired by the Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to further the research, development and commercialization of biofuels.
The announcement came in conjunction with the EPA’s release of its notice of proposed rulemaking for the Renewable Fuel Standard (earlier post), and the Department of Energy’s announcement of $787.5 million in funding to be awarded to advanced biofuels research and commercialization projects (earlier post).
The Biofuels Interagency Working Group will work with the National Science and Technology Council’s Biomass Research and Development Board in undertaking its work. The Working Group will:
Develop the US’ first comprehensive biofuel market development program, which shall use existing authorities and identify new policies to support the development of next-generation biofuels, increase flexible fuel vehicle use, and assist in retail marketing efforts;
Coordinate infrastructure policies impacting the supply, secure transport, and distribution of biofuels; and
Identify new policy options to promote the environmental sustainability of biofuels feedstock production, taking into consideration land use, habitat conservation, crop management practices, water efficiency and water quality, as well as lifecycle assessments of greenhouse gas emissions.
“We need to work in concert with the industry to figure out how to do a better job to create a market for biofuels, how to increase the use of flex-fuel vehicles, how we can assist those who market, and to coordinate the infrastructure, and do all this in a sustainable way. This is a very aggressive directive from the President.”
President Obama directed Secretary Vilsack to expedite and increase production of and investment in biofuel development efforts by refinancing existing investments in renewable fuels to preserve jobs in ethanol and biodiesel plants, renewable electricity generation plants, and other supporting industries; and making renewable energy financing opportunities from the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 available within 30 days.
These opportunities include:
Loan guarantees for the development, construction, and retrofitting of commercial scale biorefineries and grants to help pay for the development and construction costs of demonstration-scale biorefineries;
Expedited funding to encourage biorefineries to replace the use of fossil fuels in plant operations by installing new biomass energy systems or producing new energy from renewable biomass;
Expedited funding to biofuels producers to encourage production of next-generation biofuels from biomass and other non-corn feedstocks;
Expansion of Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program, which has been renamed the Rural Energy for America Program, to include hydroelectric source technologies, energy audits, and higher loan guarantee limits; and
Guidance and support for collection, harvest, storage, and transportation assistance for eligible materials for use in biomass conversion facilities.
Renergie was formed by Ms. Meaghan M. Donovan on March 22, 2006 for the purpose of raising capital to develop, construct, own and operate a network of ten ethanol plants in the parishes of the State of Louisiana which were devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Each ethanol plant will have a production capacity of five million gallons per year (5 MGY) of fuel-grade ethanol. Renergie’s “field-to-pump” strategy is to produce non-corn ethanol locally and directly market non-corn ethanol locally. On February 26, 2008, Renergie was one of 8 recipients, selected from 139 grant applicants, to share $12.5 million from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Renewable Energy Technologies Grants Program. Renergie received $1,500,483 (partial funding) in grant money to design and build Florida’s first ethanol plant capable of producing fuel-grade ethanol solely from sweet sorghum juice. On April 2, 2008, Enterprise Florida, Inc., the state’s economic development organization, selected Renergie as one of Florida’s most innovative technology companies in the alternative energy sector. On January 20, 2009, Florida Energy & Climate Commission amended RET Grant Agreement S0386 to increase Renergie’s funding from $1,500,483 to $2,500,000. By blending fuel-grade ethanol with gasoline at the gas station pump, Renergie will offer the consumer a fuel that is renewable, more economical, cleaner, and more efficient than unleaded gasoline. Moreover, the Renergie project will mark the first time that Louisiana farmers will share in the profits realized from the sale of value-added products made from their crops.