Wednesday, May 6, 2009

President Obama Issues Historic Biofuels Directive to Key Cabinet Members

/PRNewswire/ -- In response to recommendations from the Governors' Biofuels Coalition, President Barack Obama issued a presidential directive charging key members of his administration with shepherding the development of the U.S. biofuels industry. The directive creates the nation's first comprehensive biofuels market development program; coordinates infrastructure policies; and identifies policy options to improve the sustainability of biofuels feedstock production.

The President's action is a response to a letter from the Governors John Hoeven of North Dakota and Chet Culver of Iowa - chair and vice chair of the Governors' Biofuels Coalition - proposing a number of initiatives to accelerate the United States' development and use of renewable, sustainable, low-carbon fuels produced domestically. The 35 governors of the Coalition believe the President's directive is the right policy for the nation's energy, environmental and national security future.

"With this directive, a national strategic vision for the role of biofuels in America's future has been established," said Governor Hoeven, chair of the Governors' Biofuels Coalition.

"President Obama's action recognizes the economic opportunity that biofuels offer in terms of job, economic strength and energy security today -- and for decades to come," said Governor Culver, vice chair of the Coalition. "As governors, we see first-hand the positive impact and the tremendous potential of biofuels for our states and our nation. This historic action by President Obama has strengthened our commitment to the essential role that biofuels will play in the nation's energy future."

The May 5, 2009, presidential directive was distributed to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson. The directive creates a Biofuels Interagency Working Group led by these three senior administration officials. The President tasked the Working Group with four key initiatives:

-- Developing the nation's first comprehensive biofuels market
development program, which should include policies to increase
flexible fuel vehicle production and assist in retail marketing
-- Coordinating infrastructure policies impacting the supply, secure
transport, and distribution of biofuels;
-- Identifying new policy options to improve the environmental
sustainability of biofuels feedstock production, taking into
consideration land use, habitat conservation, crop management
practices, water efficiency and water quality, and lifecycle
assessments of greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to creating the Biofuels Interagency Working Group, the President directed the Secretary of Agriculture to pursue other biofuels development efforts in coordination with state and local governments. He requested that Secretary Vilsack begin refinancing existing investments in renewable fuels as needed to preserve jobs in ethanol and biodiesel plants, renewable electricity generation plants, and supporting industries. He also tasked the Secretary of Agriculture with presenting a plan within 30 days to make available the renewable energy financing opportunities made possible in the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008.

The President's directive stresses the "thousands of new jobs" and "hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenues for local, state and federal governments" that local production of clean renewable fuels provides. The President said that biofuels create homegrown sustainable energy options that stimulate the economy.

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