The Department of Energy announced its joint venture with the Department of Agriculture in a press release on April 15, 2011. The two departments will work together to support and develop advances in biobased, bioenergy, or biofuel products. This $30 million project is funded through the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BDRI). BDRI will also help create economical and environmental sources of biomass to increase the overall availability of renewable fuels and biomass products. When compared to conventional fossil fuels, these biomass advances have at a minimum of 50% less green house gas emissions.
Those who wish to apply to receive funding from the BDRI must have a well thought-out plan in one of the three particular areas:
- Feedstock Development – the improvement of biomass feedstocks
- Biofuels and Biobased Products Development – increase the use of cellulose biomass in the production of biofuels or biobased products.
- Biofuels Development Analysis – improve sustainability, environmental quality, and rural economic development of renewable biomass technologies.
The collaboration of the three areas is a great problem solver approach to energy security in the United States.
In particular, the DOE’s Biomass Program will work with the research agencies, as well as industry partners to create a balanced case for the technologies. The role for the USDA is to focus on how this issue is impacting people’s daily lives, as well as how this will impact future generations. The collaboration between the two departments is one of the many projects of Obama’s goal of reducing the United States’ oil important by one third by the year 2025.
The New York Times covered this issue objectively in their green blog. Elisabeth Rosenthal, author of the New York Times article, begins her post with an introduction of the uses of biomass and how countries such as Germany and the Netherlands have undertaken biomass projects as a means to promote clean energy. In comparison to those two countries, the United States has been a slow course of adopting a means to use biomass as an efficient energy source. However, Rosethanl views that this pace may be changing since the joint venture between the Agriculture and Energy Department’s collaboration of funding and developing new advances in bioenergy. Also, within the article Rosenthal quoted Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, who made it clear that the biomass is not a product of agricultural leftovers but plants that are grown specifically for fuel purposes.
Yahoo! News published an article by Rachel Krech, who took a very much-balanced approach in delivering the message of both the Department of Energy and Department of Agriculture. Krech explained the project’s goals and methods clearly, and even went beyond that, and wrote about how other federal institutions play a role in this project. She also included the President’s role within the project and reveals that since taking office, Obama has been committed to the idea of clean energy projects, in order to reduce dependency on foreign oil and move toward a green clean energy economy. However, Obama’s commitment to such technologies may take longer than predicted. As Krech reveals that the budget proposal from the Republican controlled House of Representatives would cut funding for alternative energy projects. Even though the Republicans of the House plan to cut funding in that area, these representatives proposed to expand on projects for natural gas to reduce dependency on foreign oil.
News Room America condensed the project between the two departments in an article of no more than 50 words. Within this brief attempt of informing the public, News Room Ameica simply stated that the costs was $30 million over the course of four years to develop biofuel technologies.
United Press International (UPI), posted an article on their official website about the Department of Agriculture and Energy’s effort to develop biofuels, in order to help improve the United States’ energy security. Within the post, UPI quoted Secretary Chu on his thoughts about the project. Chu believes that this new venture will improve the nation’s energy security substantially as well as give the United States the competitive edge within the global market for clean energy technologies.
With the exception of the Yahoo! News article, the traditional media outlets did not do a good job of analyzing the project and its impact. And the blogosphere is no exception to this deficiency.
For the most part, the blogs of interest groups and non-profits such as Advanced Biofuels USA and Ethanol Producer Magazine, as well as the Western Farm Press, simply posted the exact words of the DOE’s press release and did nothing more, no analyzing, no investigating, nothing. I was quite shocked about the lack of opinionated blogs about the issue, considering that there has been much controversy between the use of farmland for energy, instead of for food. However, a blog called FavStocks, who claims to be full of bull…and no $hit, published a post from one of its users, Green Car Congress, who talked about past DOE successes with biofuels. Green Car Congress mentioned that the DOE’s Biomass Program has made significant progress in developing cellulosic ethanol, and has made it cost-competitive with corn-based ethanol. Green Car Congress also examines each of the three particular areas of development individually. The writer came to the result that in order to have success with this project, all three areas should integrate with one another, as well as consider the full life-cycle of the technology.