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Flying Planes with Biofuels

Today, in Chicago, I joined Secretary Vilsack as he met with leaders from Boeing, United Airlines and Honeywell, to talk about support for the development of biofuels to power our jets.

In the United States alone, passenger and cargo airlines spend about $50 billion on fuel each year. If just a fraction of those billions were used to purchase American-produced aviation biofuels, we provide the opportunity to create thousands of good-paying jobs in communities across the nation.

President Obama and Secretary Vilsack have been strong advocates for using biofuels to power our cars, trucks and planes.  This reliable source of energy has the potential to drive important economic growth, especially in rural America.  You can read some of his thoughts on why this is important here in the Secretary’s weekly column.

This past few months reminded us that the future of biofuels for aviation is bright.  We saw the first domestic passenger flights powered by biofuels and USDA issued a loan guarantee to a private firm that will build and operate a biorefinery in New Mexico to support the conversion of algae into a renewable jet fuel.  Secretary Vilsack visited the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative Biannual Meeting and met with a host of partners to talk about promoting the use of renewable fuels for commercial aviation.

Projects like these that exemplify USDA’s support of aviation biofuels. As such, at the CAAFI meeting USDA and FAA released a ‘Feedstock Readiness Level Tool’ to help support future planning efforts to develop biofuels for aviation.  Also, USDA is releasing a draft report – authored in conjunction with the Airlines for America and Boeing – that outlines our work on aviation biofuels to-date, and contains our findings and our private partners’ recommendations for next steps.

Working together, we can build a future where renewable energy is a win-win:  creating jobs for the American people while increasing our domestic energy security.

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