Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Ed Schafer and Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman have released the National Biofuels Action Plan (NBAP), an interagency plan detailing the collaborative efforts of Federal agencies to accelerate the development of a sustainable biofuels industry.
"Federal leadership can provide the vision for research, industry and citizens to understand how the nation will become less dependent on foreign oil and create strong rural economies," Secretary Schafer said. "This National Biofuels Action Plan supports the drive for biofuels growth to supply energy that is clean and affordable, and always renewable."
The NBAP was developed in response to President Bush's plans to change the way America fuels its transportation fleets in the 2007 State of the Union Address. The President's "Twenty In Ten" goal calls for cutting U.S. gasoline consumption by 20 percent over the next 10 years by investing in renewable and alternative fuel sources, increasing vehicle efficiency and developing alternative fuel vehicles.
"The National Biofuels Action Plan is a strategic blueprint that shows us the way to meet the President's goal of meaningful biofuels production by the year 2022," Secretary Bodman said. "And to do it in cost-effective, environmentally-responsible ways that utilize a science-based approach to ensure the next generation of biofuels that are made primarily from feedstocks outside the food supply that are produced sustainably."
The President's ambitious alternative fuels production target was later followed by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) and the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (FCEA) of 2008, which responded to the President's "Twenty in Ten" challenge with mandatory funding of more than $1 billion for such energy activities as loan guarantees for cellulosic ethanol projects as well as other renewable energy and energy-efficiency-related programs.
The NBAP was developed and is being implemented by the Biomass Research and Development (R&D) Board. Co-chaired by USDA and DOE officials, the Board was created to coordinate the activities of federal agencies involved in biomass research and development. Its membership represents the combined expertise and resources of senior decision makers from nearly a dozen executive branch agencies and the Administration.
To enhance the impact of federal biofuels investments and enable attainment of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the NBAP outlines interagency actions and accelerated federally supported research efforts in seven areas including:
Conversion Science and Technology
Environment, Health and Safety
Interagency working groups have been chartered with near-term deadlines to deliver such key results as: The development of science-based sustainability criteria and indicators, 10-year R&D forecasts for research to develop cost-effective methods of producing cellulosic biofuels from non-food based feedstock, to advance these next generation biofuels to commercialization, and recommendations on infrastructure issues.
DOE has dedicated more than $1 billion to research, development, and demonstration of cellulosic biofuels technology through 2009. Additionally, since 2006, USDA has invested almost $600 million for the research, development and demonstration of new biofuels technology.