TODAY, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack discussed how the increased use of biofuels is helping to reduce the nation's reliance on foreign oil during a tour of AGP Biodiesel. During the tour, Vilsack highlighted today's action by the Environmental Protection Agency to establish the volume of biodiesel products required to be included in diesel fuel markets.
"President Obama's all-of-the-above energy plan is working -- today, we are importing less foreign oil than we have in nearly two decades and we are creating jobs by producing more of our energy here at home, said Vilsack. "A key part of the President's strategy is the development and promotion of biofuels and bio-based products, which are helping us fuel our cars and trucks and displacing petroleum used in the manufacturing of household products. Over the past three years, we have doubled generation from renewable energy and today's announcement by EPA will ensure that we are continuing to utilize biodiesel to help meet our energy needs, create jobs and strengthen the rural economy."
Today's action by EPA sets the 2013 volume of biodiesel products required to be included in diesel fuel markets at 1.28 billion gallons under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) which established the second phase of the Renewable Fuel Standards program. EISA specifies a one billion gallon minimum volume requirement for the biomass-based diesel category for 2012 and beyond. It also calls on EPA to increase the volume requirement after consideration of environmental, market, and energy-related factors. Today's final action follows careful review of the many comments and additional information received since EPA proposed the volume last spring.
President Obama has laid out a bold goal of reducing oil imports by half by 2020 and in his Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future released in March, 2011 the Administration laid out an all-of-the-above energy plan to achieve that goal by developing domestic oil and gas energy resources, increasing energy efficiency, and speeding development of biofuels and other alternatives. Domestic oil and gas production has increased each year the President has been in office, while renewable energy generation from wind, solar, and geothermal has doubled.
Creating new markets for the nation's agricultural products through biobased manufacturing is one of the many steps the Administration has taken over the past three years to strengthen the rural economy. Since August 2011, the White House Rural Council has supported a broad spectrum of rural initiatives including a Presidential Memorandum to create jobs in rural America through biobased and sustainable product procurement, a $350 million commitment in SBA funding to rural small businesses over the next 5 years, launching a series of conferences to connect investors with rural start-ups, creating capital marketing teams to pitch federal funding opportunities to private investors interested in making rural and making job search information available at 2,800 local USDA offices nationwide.
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council - chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.