The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has boosted its implication towards sustainable development over the last years, claiming to have supported over 15,000 projects on renewable energy since Obama took office in late 2008. Moreover, the USDA has developed and implemented many programs to support green investments, such as the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership and the Biorefinery Assistance Program.
According to Tom Vilsack, the Agriculture Secretary, the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership has led to US $120 million in commitments from the 21 participating states, in response to USDA funding of US $100 million. These investments are expected to lead to the implementation of more than 5,000 new infrastructures to ensure distribution of biofuels in the participating states.
Concerning the Biorefinery Assistance Program, the USDA states that it has assisted the implementation of six advanced biofuel production plants, 93 anaerobic digesters, and 2,200 wind and solar infrastructures.
These investments are inducing good results, considering the biobased products industry represents annually US $369 billion for the US economy while employing 4 million people. Collateral results are also to be taken into consideration.
For instance, Vilsack pointed out that the biofuels industry not only diversifies the US economy and creates 450,000 direct and indirect jobs; it also decreases the price of gasoline, attenuates emissions harmful to our atmosphere, enhances the US trade balance, and contributes to lessening the hold by foreign oil on the American market. Vilsack sustains those results are what the American people are looking for.
One project among all those supported by the USDA is the Novus Energy project to build an anaerobic digestion plant in Boardman, Oregon. The total investment of US $20.2 million will be backed by the USDA with a loan guarantee of US $11 million granted on February 26th, 2016, after complying with the Biorefinery Assistance Program. The plant will process agricultural waste from many local suppliers to produce fuel, natural gas, organic fertilizer, etc.
The plant’s daily processing capacity should be up to 750 tons of organic agricultural waste and generates 3.8 million ft3 of biogas, from which should result 2.5 million ft3 of refined biomethane ready to be fed into the natural gas pipeline grid. This biofuel will likely be sold and used for transportation. Novus will create up to 10 direct jobs for the operation and maintenance of its biogas facility, as well as up to 20 indirect support jobs.
Comparable projects have been well supported under Obama, the USDA having provided US $765 million for nine biorefinery infrastructures that have generated over 150 million gallons of advanced biofuels in many states.