America needs and is developing a reliable, sustainable, fuel supply. If we are able to produce more of it here at home – rather than relying on foreign oil – we’ll generate good, middle-class jobs and strengthen our economy in the long run. That is why USDA and the Obama administration are working with private industry to pursue an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy to promote American-produced renewable energy coupled with oil production.
Today, biofuels are being developed using not just corn, but corn stover, soybeans, switchgrass, wood, camelina, energy cane, municipal solid waste, yellow oils, algae, and a host of other non-food feedstocks growing across the country.
In fact, USDA set up virtual research consortia across this nation to help further the use of a variety of feedstocks to produce fuel. This is giving American businesses opportunities to expand, giving farmers ways to be part of the energy solution, and giving American consumers the choice to buy domestically produced, homegrown energy. Today, these choices are already providing Americans with cheaper gas at the pump because it is mixed with ethanol.
But it is not just biofuels that will help rebuild our nation’s manufacturing sector. The bio-chemical industry also has the potential to be an important driver of American economic growth and rural jobs in the years to come. Just as oil companies use petroleum to produce chemicals and other products, we can use materials grown in America to produce chemicals, construction materials, and even cleaning products to use in your home. This industry employs 100,000 Americans today and is expanding the important intersection of agriculture and manufacturing.
Additionally, we are working with other federal departments and the military to develop sources of aviation and transportation biofuels that will reduce the length of supply lines in times of conflict and also reduce reliance on politically questionable sources of crude.
Recently, my colleague Harry Baumes, head of the USDA Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, hosted back to back panels to explore renewable energy issues at the Agricultural Outlook Forum in suburban Virginia. To read the presentations from the distinguished panelists we hosted click here. To learn more about USDA’s support for sustainable renewable energy and how you can participate click here.
This Administration has helped bring our nation’s reliance on foreign oil to a 13-year low, with domestic oil and gas production that has increased each year since 2009. And we are also tackling the long-term problem of building an American energy economy that will make sure that families don’t fall victim to skyrocketing gas prices over the long term while creating jobs to strengthen the middle class.