Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman and Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer announced the National Biofuels Action Plan Tuesday. The plan comes from more than a year of work by more than a dozen agencies in an attempt to reshape the nation's energy policy toward a future that relies more on alternative energy sources and less on imported oil.
"The Biofuels Action Plan identifies the obstacles and the barriers to increased biofuels production and breaks them down into manageable chunks," said Schafer. "How we are going to grow and produce the feedstocks of the future, how to get those feedstocks we need from the farm and the forest to the refinery, how to convert them into fuel once they arrive, and how to get that fuel to places where the consumers can purchase it."
The Renewable Fuels Standard set out in last year's Energy Bill calls for the U.S. to produce 36 billion gallons of biofuels by the year 2022. Schafer says to succeed in this effort we must marshal the scientific and technical resources of the federal government and also of all the private sector.
"Not one department, not even the entire federal government nor the private sector companies in the biofuels arena can get this job done on its own," Schafer said. "The Renewable Fuels Standard gives us some pretty clear guidelines on what needs to be done. It caps our production of corn-based ethanol at 15 billion gallons a year, and it requires us to get to the rest of the way to the 36 billion gallon goal with advanced biofuels as those that rely on cellulosic feedstocks or biomass production."
Bodman and Schafer both stressed the need to accelerate the development and deployment of the next generation of biofuels and overcoming the logistical and infrastructure challenges that stand in the way.
"This plan is not the final word on how to build our biofuels industry," Schafer said. "But it gives us a very useful roadmap of what must be done to overcome the challenges and an outline of the more detailed studies that we will need to generate to get there."