US Department of Agriculture and FAA sign five-year agreement to evaluate rural feedstocks for jet biofuels
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
Wed 27 Oct 2010 – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has signed a five-year agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to develop aviation jet fuel from forest and crop residues, as well as other green feedstocks. Domestic production of renewable energy, including biofuels, is a national imperative, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who announced the venture along with with other initiatives to spur rural revitalization. The USDA and FAA will bring together their experience in “research, policy analysis and air transportation sector dynamics” to assess the availability of different kinds of feedstocks that could be processed by bio-refineries to produce jet fuels. The Air Transport Association (ATA) said it would provide confidence to those looking to invest in renewable aviation fuels.
“By producing more biofuels in America, we will create jobs, combat global warming, replace our dependence on foreign oil and build a stronger foundation for the 21st century economy,” said Vilsack.
He announced payment rules under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), which provides financial assistance for the establishment and production of eligible renewable biomass crops within specified project areas. BCAP also assists agricultural and forest landowners and operators by providing matching payments for the transportation of certain eligible materials that are sold to qualified biomass conversion facilities.
Under the FAA programme, the participants will develop a tool to evaluate the status of different components of a feedstock supply chain, such as availability of biomass from farms and forests, the potential of that biomass for production of jet fuel, and the length of time it will take to ramp up to full-scale production.
“The development and deployment of alternative fuels is critical to achieving carbon neutral aviation growth by 2020,” commented FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “This agreement leverages the expertise and resources of the USDA, enabling aviation to play a key role in expanding renewable fuel while improving the environment.”
The agreement will support a larger research plan led by USDA through its five Regional Biomass Research Centers, which, says the USDA, will help accelerate the development of a commercial advanced biofuels industry across the United States. The plan sets out to include as many rural areas as possible to maximize the economic benefits of biofuel production across the country. The USDA expects the Centers to provide critical mass to develop high-performance teams that will guide biomass research to address needs in both the public and private sector, including commercial aviation as well as military transportation and other activities.
“After formally launching the ‘Farm to Fly’ initiative just three months ago, Secretary Vilsack has taken a leadership role in this significant endeavour for aviation and for rural America,” said ATA President and CEO James C. May. “Secretary Vilsack’s announced programmes will provide investors, farmers, bankers and US energy companies with the confidence to invest in these proven, green technologies.
“ATA and its member airlines, in close collaboration with USDA, the Boeing Company, the Department of Defense and the FAA are working hard to procure and deploy environmentally preferred, economically viable, domestically produced jet fuel; this includes through long-term purchase agreements. These new and enhanced USDA programmes will accelerate production of renewable aviation fuels by US farmers.”