White House Clean Energy Forum part of major commitment to bioenergy

By Jon H. Harsch

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, May 5 –At the White House Clean Energy Forum Wednesday, Secretary Vilsack noted that the forum was being held on the one year anniversary of President Obama’s Biofuels Directive and said “We must rapidly escalate the production of biofuels to meet the 2022 Federal Renewable Fuels standard goal, and much of this biofuel will come from feedstocks produced by America’s farmers and ranchers.”

As part of the forum, USDA announced the availability of funds under several key energy provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill, including the Biorefinery Assistance Program, Repowering Assistance Payments to Eligible Biorefineries, Payments to Eligible Advanced Biofuel Producers, and the Rural Energy For America Program (REAP). In 2009 alone, the REAP programs funded 1,557 projects in 50 states, the territory of Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific Islands, expecting to reduce green house gases by 1.5 million metric tons of carbon. These investments will generate a projected equivalent of 1.5 million Kilowatts of electricity. USDA is also implementing the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) to provide matching payments to help encourage the development of biomass feedstocks.

Meanwhile, USDA is working closely with other departments including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy, and the Department of the Navy to promote biofuel production. On Monday, Secretary Vilsack and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson signed a new interagency agreement promoting renewable energy generation and slashing greenhouse gas emissions from livestock operations. The agreement expands the work of the AgSTAR program, a joint EPA-USDA effort that helps livestock producers reduce methane emissions from their operations. EPA and USDA’s enhanced collaboration will provide up to $3.9 million over the next five years to help the farms overcome obstacles preventing them from recovering and using biogas. In January, Secretary Vilsack and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus signed a Memorandum of Understanding to encourage the development of advanced biofuels and other renewable energy systems.

To read more about bioenergy issues raised at the forum, go to: www.agri-pulse.com/20100505H2.asp

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