USDA issues grants for sustainable bioenergy production
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $10 million in research grants to spur production of bioenergy and biobased products that will lead to the development of sustainable regional systems and help create jobs. Vilsack highlighted the announcement today with a visit to Michigan State University, a grant awardee.
The Secretary also pointed to a recent study released by Iowa State University, and funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which finds that while the use of biobased products in automobile manufacturing is increasing, there are still many parts in the top-selling automobiles manufactured in the United States that may be replaced with biobased materials.
"USDA and President Obama are committed to producing clean energy right here at home, to not only break our dependence on foreign oil, but also boost rural economies," said Vilsack. "These projects will give us the scientific information needed to support biofuel production and create co-products that will enhance the overall value of a biobased economy.
Today, with a strong and diversified U.S. agricultural sector, the American automobile industry has a greater incentive for expanding use of biobased products while supporting good-paying jobs here in the United States."
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the grants through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.
AFRI's sustainable bioenergy challenge area targets the development of regional systems for the sustainable production of bioenergy and biobased products that: contribute significantly to reducing dependence on foreign oil; have net positive social, environmental, and rural economic impacts; and are compatible with existing agricultural systems.
The long-term goal for the research projects, which were selected through a highly competitive process, is to implement sustainable regional systems that materially deliver liquid transportation biofuels to help meet the Energy Independence and Security Act goal of 36 billion gallons per year of biofuels by 2022. The programs focus on the many environmental, social and economic benefits and trade-offs associated with decisions and policies regarding the where, when, and how of national and regional biofuels development.
Projects were awarded in four areas:
- Policy options for and impacts on regional biofuels production systems.
- Impacts of regional bioenergy feedstock production systems on wildlife and pollinators.
- Socioeconomic impacts of biofuels on rural communities.
- Environmental implications of direct and indirect land use change.