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USDA Accomplishments in Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency

Cross posted from the White House blog:

At President Obama’s direction, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working hard to unleash the power of America’s innovators and entrepreneurs to build a green energy economy.   By producing renewable energy – especially biofuels – America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities have incredible potential to help ensure our nation’s energy security, environmental security, and economic security.  Here are just some of the ways USDA is involved in helping create green energy jobs for the 21st century:

Creating Jobs and Improving the Economy in Rural America

Over the past two years, the Obama Administration and USDA have worked to build a foundation for sustainable economic growth in rural America.  At the center of our vision is an effort to increase domestic production and use of renewable energy.  Someone has to build these plants.  Someone has to produce the parts for these plants.  Someone has to maintain these plants.  Someone has to run these plants.  Someone has to transport the fuel.  That can all happen in rural communities.  This week, I announced USDA support to help private companies create hundreds of jobs building three new refineries producing advanced biofuels.

A Nationwide Biofuels Industry and Market

It is critical to develop a biofuel industry powered by feedstocks produced in every corner of the country, in addition to the Midwest. That is why USDA has established five regional research centers working on science necessary to ensure profitable biofuels can be produced from a diverse range of feedstocks.  And this week, USDA announced funding for feasibility studies into bioenergy projects in every corner of the country.

Developing a Sustainable Biofuels Industry and Market

USDA developed a Biofuels Roadmap to determine the next steps in growing an advanced biofuels economy.  And in 2010 alone, USDA invested over $ 1 billion in improving the entire supply chain of biofuels and bioenergy, from research and development, to production and commercialization.

  • Support for Producers: We implemented incentives to help encourage producers to grow new feed stocks – finalizing the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which has already provided $240 million to help producers who are joining this energy revolution defray the cost of production, storage and transportation.
  • Commercialization: In addition to our support for biorefineries, we are working to expand the number of convenient locations where consumers can obtain higher blends of biofuels.
  • Partnerships with Government and Private Industry: We are capitalizing on federal and commercial partners who see the potential for biofuels to reduce their energy costs and bolster strategic goals.  We have partnered with the Department of the Navy as it embraces a biofuel future to help build a green fleet, and with the Federal Aviation Administration to help them and the commercial airline industry move towards using biofuels to power jets.

Promoting Energy Efficiency and Reducing Energy Costs for Farmers and Small Businesses

Through investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, farms and rural small businesses across the country can reduce their energy consumption and energy expenses.  In two years, USDA has helped nearly 4,000 rural small businesses, farmers and ranchers save energy and improve their bottom line by installing renewable energy systems and energy efficiency solutions that will save a projected 4.3 billion in kWh– enough energy to power 390,000 American homes for a year.

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