Obama Reveals Plan for Biofuels, Clean Coal

by | Feb 4, 2010

cornPresident Obama announced plans to boost the nation’s production of biofuels and to advance the development of clean-coal technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, reports the New York Times. This supports the President’s clean energy agenda to address global warming by replacing dirty fuels with renewable energy sources and jumpstarting a clean-energy industry in the U.S., according to the article.

President Obama unveiled his plans in a meeting with a group of governors at the White House, stating that the steps would create jobs in rural areas, reduce foreign energy dependence and curb carbon emissions, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The Obama administration officially pledged that the United States would cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

The President announced three measures that will work together to boost biofuels production and reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil. Firstly, the U.S. Environmental Protection (EPA) finalized a rule to implement the Renewable Fuels Standard that requires biofuels production of 36 billion gallons by 2022 established by Congress.

An earlier version of the rule would have minimized corn ethanol’s role because of concerns about the fuel’s ability to reduce emissions, according to the Los Angeles Times. The Administration said the EPA rule will reduce oil imports by $41.5 billion and take the equivalent of 27 million vehicles off the road, according to the article.

Currently, the United States produces 12 billion gallons of biofuels, mostly corn-based ethanol, and does not have the capacity to triple that production, according to the New York Times.

The EPA said ethanol and other renewable fuels must account for 8.25 percent of gasoline sales in 2010 to meet Congress’ mandate that nearly 13 billion gallons of renewable fuels be produced this year, reports Reuters.

Secondly, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a rule on the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) that would provide financing to farmers, ranchers and foresters to increase the conversion of biomass — farm and forest waste, sugar cane, switch grass and other materials — to bioenergy for land, air and sea transportation, reports the New York Times.

However, some environmentalists and scientists say production of U.S. biofuels from corn and other grains could reduce the production of other crops and drive farmers in other countries to burn down forests, creating new sources of CO2, reports Reuters.

Thirdly, the President’s Biofuels Interagency Working Group released its first report, “Growing America’s Fuel” (PDF) that lays out a strategy to advance the development and commercialization of a sustainable biofuels industry in the U.S.

Obama also announced a Presidential Memorandum creating a new task force — Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage — to develop a plan for rolling out cost-effective carbon capture and storage technology in 10 years, which includes 10 commercial demonstration projects by 2016, reports Reuters.

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