Obama spurs development of advanced aviation biofuels as part of national plan for energy security
Fri 1 Apr 2011 – Against a backdrop of Middle East instability and the volatility in crude oil prices, President Obama has called for a one-third reduction of all US oil imports by 2025. Unveiling a ‘Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future’, the President outlined a range of clean energy proposals including broadening investment in research and development of advanced biofuels and increasing the number of public transit options, such as high-speed rail, in order to reduce oil dependence. He challenged his Secretaries of Agriculture, Energy and the Navy to investigate how they can work together to speed the development of drop-in biofuels. “Competitively-priced drop-in biofuels could help meet the fuel needs of the Navy, as well as the commercial aviation and shipping sectors,” he said.
Avoiding any mention of the environment or climate change during his speech, Obama said the long-term trend on oil prices was upwards as countries like India and China grew rapidly and it was certain that demand for energy was growing much faster than supply.
“So here’s the bottom line – there are no quick fixes,” he said. “And we will keep on being a victim to shifts in the oil market until we get serious about a long-term policy for secure, affordable energy.
“We’ve known about the dangers of our oil dependence for decades. Presidents and politicians of every stripe have promised energy independence, but that promise has so far gone unmet. I’ve pledged to reduce America’s dependence on oil too, and I’m proud of the historic progress we’ve made over the last two years towards that goal. But we’ve also run into the same political gridlock and inertia that’s held us back for decades. That has to change.”
The President said renewable biofuels held tremendous promise as a substitute for oil, “not just ethanol, but biofuels made from things like switchgrass, wood chips and biomass.”
He added: “If anyone doubts the potential of these fuels, consider Brazil. Already, more than half of Brazil’s vehicles can run on biofuels. And just last week, our Air Force used an advanced biofuel blend to fly an F-22 Raptor faster than the speed of sound. In fact, the Air Force is aiming to get half of its domestic jet fuel from alternative sources by 2016. And I’m directing the Navy and the Departments of Energy and Agriculture to work with the private sector to create advanced biofuels that can power not just fighter jets, but trucks and commercial airliners.”
The directive was welcomed by the Air Transport Association of America (ATA).
“ATA and our members remain firm supporters of a comprehensive national energy policy that increases US energy security, is climate-friendly, and results in more predictable and stable energy supply and costs,” commented ATA President and CEO Nicholas Calio.
“We look forward to stepping up our work with the USDA, DOE and the nation’s military in furthering advanced biofuels development and deployment. This will build on our work with the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative, a coalition that ATA co-leads with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Strategic Alliance for Alternative Fuels initiative with the US military, and our Farm-to-Fly programme with USDA and Boeing to accelerate the availability of commercially viable, environmentally preferred alternative jet fuels.”