Obama Encourages Crop-Based Fuel Production

Significant job-creation, environmental and energy-security benefits are associated with the domestic production of biodiesel and ethanol; benefits that President Barack Obama recognized in his State of the Union Address.

Biodiesel and ethanol are two types of biofuels that are liquid fuels derived from renewable resources such as plant or animal materials. The U.S. is mandated to produce 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022 as outlined in the 2007 energy bill, which is nearly double the 12 billion gallons it currently mandates.

“Providing incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy is the right thing to do for our future, because the nation that leads the clean-energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy, and America must be that nation,” Obama said.

Biodiesel is a fuel blend made primarily with soybeans. Ethanol is a fuel blend made primarily with corn.

Both crop-based fuel sources are advantageous for the agriculture industry. Farmers who grow corn and soybeans can be privy to the success and failure of the biofuels market if portions of their harvest are sold to biorefineries. But they’re not the only ones who are positively impacted.

Consumers also profit from domestic biofuel production. Biofuels supplement the U.S. fuel supply, offsetting the cost of regular fuel prices. Domestic biofuel production creates jobs to spur economies nationwide. Biofuels are also better for the environment because they’re non-toxic and don’t deplete natural resources. Biofuel use improves domestic security by reducing our reliance on imported oil.

Biodiesel Stats
  • Biodiesel production in the U.S. provided more than 23,000 jobs nationally and more than $4 billion to the nation’s GDP in 2009.
  • Without biodiesel, gas prices would increase $.20 to $.35 per gallon, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, which saved the average U.S. household $150 to $300 in 2008.
  • Biodiesel is extremely energy efficient; for every one unit of energy required to produce it, it returns 5.2 units of energy.

Ethanol Stats
  • In 2009, the U.S. ethanol industry supported nearly half-a-million jobs.
  • Research shows a 35-to-46 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions and a 50-to-60 percent reduction in fossil-energy consumption because of the use of ethanol as a component in motor fuel.
  • Most of the standard gasoline sold in the U.S. uses a 10-percent blend of ethanol.
  • The production and use of 10.6 billion gallons of ethanol in 2009 displaced the need for more than 321.4 million barrels of oil and saved American consumers and taxpayers more than $32 billion.
Obama noted the urgency and importance of biofuel production to our country’s energy independence:

“But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear-power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean-coal technologies,” Obama said.

The Biofuels Interagency Working Group, created by Obama’s administration in May, is devoted to implementing the policies necessary to progress the country’s outlined energy initiatives.

As part of his clean-energy agenda to advance job creation and reduce dependence on foreign oil, Obama recently met with 11 governors to discuss a “non-ideological approach” to energy and efficiency.

As climate change continues to develop into a deeper political issue, it will be interesting to witness how the country responds to Obama’s incentives, and how American agriculture will step up to the plate.

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