USDA Works With Aviation Officials to Promote Biofuels Use

Vilsack is holding a roundtable discussion with commercial airline officials in Chicago.

Published on: Jan 16, 2012

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack will meet with officials from Boeing, Honeywell and United Airlines Monday to discuss the role biofuels will play in addressing the long-term energy needs of commercial airlines and the military.

Vilsack will host an hour-long roundtable in Chicago at Boeing's headquarters with the Vice Presidents from Boeing and United Express, a leader of Honeywell International, and other area business leaders as part of the administration's efforts to reduce the country's dependence on foreign fuels.

Vilsack says this will expand biofuels use in aviation.

"We're going to continue to focus on the fact that we think there is a tremendous opportunity through research and assistance with the Navy and the Department of Energy in building a drop-in aviation fuel industry, which would allow us to take what we grow, and potentially crop residue, woody biomass and other materials and create a drop-in fuel that can be used not only by the Department of Defense and our Navy, but also by the commercial aviation industry," Vilsack said. "We know they are very interested in this because they are confronting greenhouse gas regulations in Europe; we know this fuel will allow them to meet those regulations. We already have a few airlines that are using biofuels on a pilot basis so we see this as a tremendous opportunity for job growth in rural areas and for additional income opportunities for farmers so we're going to be working with the commercial aviation industry to make this happen."

USDA has worked in recent years with the Navy and the Federal Aviation Administration to promote the use of biofuels as jet fuel - and invested in other projects to advance the aviation biofuel industry.

Last July - USDA said farmers in four states in the U.S. can qualify for a federal cost-sharing payment if they grow camelina for conversion into jet fuel.