On Oct 21, 2010, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack signed a five year agreement with the FAA for pushing production and demand for aviation biofuels.
They plan to 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 initiative is aimed at rural revitalization for the farming sector and creating new jobs in the green energy sector. Thankfully though, the program seems to have enthusiastic support from the US aviation industry, and all the major players promptly issued statements to this effect.
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt – “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is pleased to be working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop alternatives to jet fuel… The development and deployment of alternative fuels is critical to achieving carbon neutral aviation growth by 2020.”
Air Transport Association President and CEO James C. May – “ATA and its member airlines, in close collaboration with USDA, the Boeing Company, the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration 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 programs will accelerate production of renewable aviation fuels by U.S. farmers.”
Aerospace Industries Association President and CEO Marion C. Blakey – “This is a welcome step forward. Alternative fuels are crucial to reach the environmental goals for aviation established by ICAO earlier this month. We look forward to working with FAA, USDA and commercial providers to bring cost-effective biofuels into production.”
Boeing (NYSE: BA) Vice President, Environment and Aviation Policy, Billy M. Glover – “Boeing is currently working with the USDA and the Air Transport Association on the Farm-to-Fly initiative, which seeks to encourage the production of sustainable aviation biofuels through U.S. agricultural policy. The USDA-FAA partnership will further help in that regard. We applaud their efforts and look forward to working with them to commercialize biofuels that can help the aviation industry meet its aggressive carbon reduction goals.”
The USDA has set a target of 36 billion gallons of biofuel a year in the United States by 2022. In addition to the aviation sector, the program also targets motorists.
Over the next five years, the USDA is going to provide resources to help setup 10,000 pumps that will allow motorists access to ethanol fuel blends, and the USDA is also going to promote the use of biofuels in its own fleet of 43,000 vehicles.
Photo courtesy Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI)