According to a news release from the USDA, $10 million has been awarded in research grants to 29 U.S. university bioenergy research programs. The grants are reportedly intended to spur the production and use of biobased products in an effort to create jobs, sustain natural resources, and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign resources.
The USDA reported that the long-term goal for research projects is to implement sustainable regional biofuel systems that meet the Energy Independence and Security Act goal of 36 billion gallons of biofuels per year by 2022. The 2012 fiscal year university grant recipients were selected based on the research of potential policy options for biofuel production systems, how the systems might impact the environment, what socioeconomic impacts biofuel systems would have on rural communities, and what kinds of environmental implications would be involved.
According to the USDA, this grant is part of the Obama Administration’s initiatives to create new markets for agricultural products as a way of strengthening the rural economy. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, "[The] USDA and President Obama are committed to producing clean energy right here at home, to not only break our dependence on foreign oil, but also to boost rural economies. These projects will give us the scientific information needed to support biofuel production and create co-products that will enhance the overall value of a biobased economy.”
The hope of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture is that these research project grants will develop biofuel systems and biobased products that significantly reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, positively impact rural economics, sustain the environment, and are compatible with existing agricultural systems.
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