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Obama Announces Steps to Boost Biofuels, Clean Coal

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Feb. 3 announced a series of steps his Administration is taking as part of its comprehensive strategy to enhance American energy independence while building a foundation for a new clean energy economy, and its promise of new industries and millions of jobs. 
At a meeting with a bipartisan group of governors from around the country, the President laid out three measures that will work in concert to boost biofuels production and reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil. 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized a rule to implement the long-term renewable fuels standard of 36 billion gallons by 2022 established by Congress.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a rule on the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) that would provide financing to increase the conversion of biomass to bioenergy. The President's Biofuels Interagency Working Group released its first report - Growing America's Fuel. The report, authored by group co-chairs, Secretaries Vilsack and Chu, and Administrator Jackson, lays out a strategy to advance the development and commercialization of a sustainable biofuels industry to meet or exceed the nation's biofuels targets.

In addition, President Obama announced a Presidential Memorandum (linked below) creating an Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage to develop a comprehensive and coordinated federal strategy to speed the development and deployment of clean coal technologies. Our nation's economy will continue to rely on the availability and affordability of domestic coal for decades to meet its energy needs, and these advances are necessary to reduce pollution in the meantime. The President calls for five to ten commercial demonstration projects to be up and running by 2016. 

President Obama said, "Now, I happen to believe that we should pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill.  It will make clean energy the profitable kind of energy, and the decision by other nations to do this is already giving their businesses a leg up on developing clean energy jobs and technologies. But even if you disagree on the threat posed by climate change, investing in clean energy jobs and businesses is still the right thing to do for our economy.  Reducing our dependence on foreign oil is still the right thing to do for our security.  We can't afford to spin our wheels while the rest of the world speeds ahead."

"Advancing biomass and biofuel production holds the potential to create green jobs, which is one of the many ways the Obama Administration is working to rebuild and revitalize rural America," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Facilities that produce renewable fuel from biomass have to be designed, built and operated. Additionally, BCAP will stimulate biomass production and that will benefit producers and provide the materials necessary to generate clean energy and reduce carbon pollution."

"President Obama and this Administration are strongly committed to the development of carbon capture and storage technology as a key part of the clean energy economy.  We can and should lead the world in this technology and the jobs it can create," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

"The actions President Obama has taken today will create jobs, slash greenhouse gas emissions and increase our energy security while helping to put America at the leading edge of the new energy economy," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "The renewable fuel standards will help bring new economic opportunity to millions of Americans, particularly in rural America. EPA is proud to be a part of the President's effort to combat climate change and put Americans back to work - both through the new renewable fuel standards and through our co-chairmanship with the Department of Energy of the Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage."

Background on today's announcements:

Renewable Fuels Standard. EPA has finalized a rule implementing the long-term renewable fuels mandate of 36 billion gallons by 2022 established by Congress. The Renewable Fuels Standard requires biofuels production to grow from last year's 11.1 billion gallons to 36 billion gallons in 2022, with 21 billion gallons to come from advanced biofuels.  Increasing renewable fuels will reduce dependence on oil by more than 328 million barrels a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions more than 138 million metric tons a year when fully phased in by 2022.  For the first time, some renewable fuels must achieve greenhouse gas emission reductions - compared to the gasoline and diesel fuels they displace - in order to be counted towards compliance with volume standards.
To read the rule: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/renewablefuels/index.htm

Biomass Crop Assistance Program. USDA has proposed a rule for Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) to convert biomass to bioenergy and bio-based products.  USDA provides grants and loans and other financial support to help biofuels and renewable energy commercialization. BCAP has already begun to provide matching payments to folks delivering biomass for the collection, harvest, storage, and transportation of biomass to eligible biomass conversion facilities. 
To read the rule:
http://www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/webapp?area=home&subject=ener&topic=bcap

Biofuels Working Group. In May, President Obama established the Biofuels Interagency Working Group - co-chaired by USDA, DOE, and EPA, and with input from many others - to develop a comprehensive approach to accelerating the investment in and production of American biofuels and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.  Today the Working Group released its first report:  Growing America's Fuel - a new U.S. Government strategy for meeting or beating the country's biofuel targets. The report is focused on short term solid government solutions supporting the existing biofuels industry, as well as accelerating the commercial establishment of advanced biofuels and a viable long-term market by transforming how the U.S. Government does business across Departments and using strategic public-private partnerships.
To read the full report:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/growing_americas_fuels.PDF

Presidential Memorandum for a Comprehensive Federal Strategy on Carbon Capture and Storage. Charting the path toward clean coal is essential to achieving the Administration's clean energy goals, supporting American jobs and reducing emissions of carbon pollution.  Rapid development and deployment of clean coal technologies, particularly carbon capture and storage (CCS), will help position the U.S. as a leader in the global clean energy race.  The President's memorandum establishes an Interagency Task Force on Carbon Capture and Storage to develop a comprehensive and coordinated federal strategy to speed the development and deployment of clean coal technologies.
The Task Force will be co-chaired by representatives of from DOE and EPA and include participants from at least 9 different agencies and offices.   The Task Force shall develop within 180 days a plan to overcome the barriers to the deployment of widespread affordable CCS within 10 years, with a goal of bringing five to ten commercial demonstration projects on line by 2016.  The plan should address incentives for CCS adoption and any financial, economic, technological, legal, institutional, or other barriers to deployment.  The Task Force should consider how best to coordinate existing federal authorities and programs, as well as identify areas where additional federal authority may be necessary.  The Task Force shall report progress periodically to the President, through the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.
To read the full memorandum:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/presidential-memorandum-a-comprehensive-federal-strategy-carbon-capture-and-storage

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