Vilsack Makes the Case for Renewable Energy

The Ag Secretary urged petroleum companies to support increasing the blend rate of ethanol to E15.

Published on: May 4, 2012

The push to boost the amount of ethanol blended in the fuel consumers buy goes on and this week Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack put  his office behind the effort. Vilsack called on petroleum companies to help increase the percentage of ethanol in the tank to reduce dependence on foreign oil, boost job creation and promote development of renewable energy from farm-produced feedstocks.

He notes that the Obama administration has an 'all-of-the-above' to promoting domestic energy security, and increasing the percentage of ethanol to be blended with gasoline will help boost economic growth while lessening the nation's dependence on foreign oil."

Vilsack Makes the Case for Renewable Energy
Vilsack Makes the Case for Renewable Energy

The Renewable Fuel Standard, a long-term mandate to push up the percentage of renewable fuel used would require use of 36 billion gallons of renewable transportation fuel by 2022 including biodiesel and ethanol. The mandate calls for 21 billion of that amount to be produced using low carbon, renewable fuels including cellulosic biofuel. In a press statement outlining the issue, USDA points out achieving the mandate will "help speed the transition to cleaner, more secure sources of energy in the transportation sector."

"When we get to 36 billion gallons, that's going to be mean that we will be importing fewer barrels of oil," says Vilsack. "That means that the wealth that we are currently transferring into those countries that don't necessarily agree with us and are from an unstable part of the world can be redirected into creating rural opportunities and jobs."

To enable widespread use of E15, the Obama Administration has set a goal to help fueling station owners install 10,000 blender pumps over the next 5 years. In addition, both through the Recovery Act and the 2008 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and U.S. Department of Agriculture have provided grants, loans and loan guarantees to spur American ingenuity on the next generation of biofuels. Before it can be sold, manufacturers must first take additional measures to help ensure retail stations and other gasoline distributors understand and implement labeling rules and other E15-related requirements.

With a focus on helping the country reach 36 billion gallons by 2022, USDA, in collaboration with DOE and EPA, developed the Growing America's Fuels strategy. This plan will help ensure that dependable supplies of feedstock are available for the production of advanced biofuels to meet legislated goals and market demand, as well to enhance rural economic sustainability. Toward that end, USDA is supporting the establishment of five Regional Biomass Research Centers and has published a Biofuels Production Roadmap addressing regional variations in feedstock availability and biorefinery locations.