ST. LOUIS -- Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced yesterday nearly $17.5 million for 17 biomass research, development and demonstration projects to help break the nation's "addiction to oil."

The funding was announced while secretaries Johanns and Bodman addressed the general session at "Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance," a jointly hosted USDA-DOE conference aimed at furthering the United States' Advanced Energy Initiative. The AEI seeks to accelerate the commercialization of clean, affordable alternative and renewable sources of energy by changing the way cars, homes and businesses are powered.

"Americans are discovering the road to energy independence is paved with natural resources grown right here at home," Secretary Johanns said. "This is a new era for America's farmers, ranchers and rural communities as they seize this moment where opportunity meets need, and where American ingenuity breaks a century-long addiction to oil."

Secretary Bodman said, "This funding will spur new scientific innovation that will help us kick our over-reliance on oil. President Bush's policies, like the Advanced Energy Initiative, have demonstrated a strong commitment to a secure energy and economic future. By investing in our nation's promising researchers we are closer to making clean, affordable alternative sources of energy a reality."

Grants announced today are intended to develop technologies necessary to help make bio-based fuels cost-competitive with fossil fuels in the commercial market. The projects selected will carry out research, development and demonstrations on biobased products, bioenergy, biofuels, and biopower.

Of the $17,492,466 announced yesterday, $12,784,733 is funded by USDA (FY'06) and $4,707,733 is funded by DOE (FY'06-'08). DOE funds go to three projects developing cellulosic biomass. USDA will provide funding to address such topics as feedstock production and product diversification.

Under the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, a joint USDA-DOE effort established in 2000 and reauthorized in the comprehensive Energy Policy Act of 2005, award projects must demonstrate collaboration among experts in the field of biomass. The initiative aims to enhance creative approaches in developing next generation advanced technologies; and promote research partnerships among colleges, universities, national laboratories, federal and state research agencies and the private sector.

The "Advancing Renewable Energy" conference was designed to address one of the greatest challenges facing the world: increasing the availability of clean and affordable energy to reduce global dependence on fossil fuels. This conference brings together leaders in government as well as finance, energy, and agriculture.

Conference goals include:

  • Identifying major issues including partnership opportunities facing decision makers both within government and in the private sector.

  • Identifying critical pathways to rapid deployment of renewable energy technologies; while recognizing and then making policy recommendations for resolving these issues.

  • Examining policy incentives such as tax credits, loan guarantees, expedited approval processes, and other measures to increase certainty, reduce risk and accelerate the deployment of new energy sources.

  • Joining with stakeholders to strengthen and expand current energy infrastructure, which will lead to the continued growth and diversification of our nation's renewable sources of energy.

  • Bush is scheduled to address "Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance" today, Oct. 12, in St. Louis.

    A list of the 17 entities selected as grant recipients is online.

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    SOURCE: Joint DOE, USDA news release.