Cantwell urges Vilsack to support aviation biofuels initiative to reduce dependence on foreign oil

By Melissa Coon

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, July 15 – Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) Wednesday urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to support public-private initiatives in Washington state to develop aviation biofuels for military and commercial aircraft. In a letter to Vilsack, Cantwell said research has shown the technical viability of turning crops and biomass into aviation fuels, securing a reliable domestic supply for our military and commercial jets.

“I believe the biofuels industry holds great promise for our nation to revitalize rural agricultural communities, foster economic growth, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and cut our dependence on foreign oil,” said Cantwell. “The industry will require our support to reach its potential. As you contemplate options for providing that support, please consider a partner in the United States Senate.”

A strong supporter of biofuels for surface transportation, Cantwell, who chairs the Energy Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said aviation biofuels offer potentially greater economic opportunity for farmers, aviation and transportation, and U.S. energy independence.

Currently, there are several ongoing initiatives to utilize biofuels in the Pacific Northwest. AltAir, a commercial agreement to produce jet fuel from camelina crops for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, plans to grow the crop in Montana, transport it to Anacortes for refining, and then ship it to the airport via pipeline. Meanwhile, Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest (SAFN) intends to examine economic, technical and political hurdles that prevent the development of aviation biofuels the Pacific Northwest.

Cantwell, who helped write the 2007 Renewable Energy Fuels Standard, is also fighting for a one-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit through the end of 2010.

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