Vilsack to Visit Biofuel Plant

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will attend the opening of a new biofuel production plant in Pennsylvania as part of his and the US Department of Agriculture’s ongoing commitment to the development of renewable energy.

Since he entered the office in 2009, Vilsack, the USDA, and the Obama Administration as a whole have backed the development of renewable energy sources. This commitment has run the gamut from supporting solar and wind energy companies to backing controversial ethanol production mandates (which increase the price of corn, benefitting farmers but hurting consumers).

Vilsack’s upcoming visit represents a new front in the fight for renewable energy. During Vilsack’s trip, he is expected to announce about $7 million in funding for renewable biofuel production (part of a broader $25 million funding effort in states like Utah, Ohio, Kansas, and Pennsylvania). In particular, this $25 million push focuses on the creation of non-petroleum fuel from materials that will not diminish American food supplies.

The Renmatix Inc. facility that Vilsack will visit takes wood, grass, agricultural residue, and other farm waste and transforms it into sugars that can be further processed into industrial chemicals and biofuels. The benefit of this system is that, by using farm waste, it will not increase the price of food or the cost of feed.

According to Vilsack, the plant is but one of many steps that can transform the American economy. “It’s not just fuel and not just energy that’s being produced. We virtually have the capacity to have a new economy in this country,” the secretary said in an interview.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer