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US Navy moves ahead in biofuel use

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus today announced the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Navy's joint "Farm-to-Fleet" venture will now make biofuel blends part of regular, operational fuel purchase and use by the military. The announcement incorporates the acquisition of biofuel blends into regular Department of Defense (DOD) domestic solicitations for jet engine and marine diesel fuels. The Navy will seek to purchase JP-5 and F-76 advanced drop-in biofuels blended from 10 to 50 percent with conventional fuels. Funds from USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) will assist the effort.

"The Navy's intensifying efforts to use advanced, homegrown fuels to power our military benefits both America's national security and our rural communities," said Vilsack. "Not only will production of these fuels create jobs in rural America, they're cost effective for our military, which is the biggest consumer of petroleum in the nation. America's Navy shouldn't have to depend on oil supplies from foreign nations to ensure our national defense, and rural America stands ready to provide clean, homegrown energy that increases our military's energy independence and puts Americans to work."

Farm-to-Fleet builds on the USDA / U.S. Navy partnership inaugurated in 2010, when President Barack Obama challenged his Secretaries of Agriculture, Energy and Navy to investigate how they could work together to speed the development of domestic, competitively-priced "drop-in" diesel and jet fuel substitutes.

"A secure, domestically-produced energy source is very important to our national security," said Navy Secretary Mabus. "Energy is how our naval forces are able to provide presence around the world. Energy is what gets them there and keeps them there. The Farm-to-Fleet initiative we are announcing today is important to advancing a commercial market for advanced biofuel, which will give us an alternative fuel source and help lessen our dependence on foreign oil."

Today's announcement marks the first time alternative fuels such as advanced drop-in biofuels will be available for purchase through regular procurement practices. It lowers barriers for alternative domestic fuel suppliers to do business with DOD. Preliminary indications from the Defense Production Act Title III Advanced Drop-in Biofuels Production Project are that drop-in biofuels will be available for less than $4 per gallon by 2016, making them competitive with traditional sources of fuel.

The program gets underway with a bulk fuels solicitation in 2014, with deliveries expected in mid-2015. USDA and Navy also are collaborating on an Industry Day, Jan. 30, 2014, where stakeholders can learn more about Farm-to-Fleet.

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