The federal government will spend up to $510 million over the next three years to develop "drop-in" biofuels for aircraft, ships, and ground transportation, for both military and civilian use, the Obama administration announced on Tuesday. The plan aims to jump-start biofuels efforts, while creating jobs in rural states. It requires private investors to put up matching funds, and will support the construction of several plants and refineries to help speed the development of next-generation fuels. "These pioneer plants will demonstrate advanced technologies to produce infrastructure-compatible, drop-in renewable fuels from America's abundant biomass resources," said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "It will support development of a new, rural-focused industry that will replace imported crude oil with secure, renewable fuels made here in the U.S."
The new plan is the result of an agreement (PDF) between the departments of energy and agriculture and the Navy. The plan also will help the government meet goals to reduce foreign oil imports by one-third by 2025 and cut in half the Navy's dependence on fossil fuels by 2020. "We have been making rapid progress in the next generation of biofuels ... which has put us on the cusp of a biofuels revolution," says Chu. Tuesday's announcement shows that the government is committed to "keep the momentum going," he said.