WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Obama issued a presidential directive today to Secretary Vilsack to aggressively accelerate the investment in and production of biofuels. On a conference call with Energy Secretary Stephen Chu and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Vilsack also announced that he will help lead an unprecedented interagency effort to increase America's energy independence and spur rural economic development.
"President Obama's announcement today demonstrates his deep commitment to establishing a permanent biofuels industry in America," said Vilsack. "Expanding our biofuels infrastructure provides a unique opportunity to spur rural economic development while reducing our dependence on foreign oil -- one of the great challenges of the 21st century."
Increasing renewable fuels will reduce dependence on foreign oil by more than 297 million barrels a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 160 million tons a year when fully phased in by 2022. On the call, Jackson announced that the EPA would establish four categories of renewable fuels, some of which would be produced form new sources. To address lifecyle analysis, the EPA said they are soliciting peer reviewed, scientific feedback to ensure that the best science available is utilized prior to implementation.
"Producing clean, renewable energy in our country is a powerful rural development tool that creates jobs domestically while generating new tax revenues for local, state, and federal governments," added Vilsack.
President Obama directed Secretary Vilsack to expedite and increase production of and investment in biofuel development efforts by:
The Biofuels Interagency Working Group will develop the nation's first comprehensive biofuels market development program. The increased collaboration between federal agencies will accelerate the production of and access to sustainable homegrown energy options by coordinating policies that impact the supply, secure transport, and distribution of biofuels, as well as identifying new policy options to improve the environmental sustainability of biofuels feedstock production.
The Biofuels Interagency Working Group will also work to develop policies to increase flexible fuel vehicle production and assist in retail marketing efforts while also taking into consideration land use, habitat conservation, crop management practices, water efficiency and water quality, and lifecycle assessments of greenhouse gas emissions.