Last week, U.S. Department of Energy  ("DOE") Secretary Steven Chu and U.S. Department of Agriculture ("USDA") Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the winning candidates for up to $6.3 million in awards for research leading to improved use of plant feedstocks for biofuel production.  The seven projects announced follow the green jobs and renewable energy Rural Tour event hosted by the two cabinet Secretaries in Virginia on the weekend of July 18-19.  These investments are intended to further the Obama Administration’s efforts to broaden the nation’s energy portfolio while decreasing our dependence on foreign oil.

These grants will be awarded under a joint DOE-USDA program begun in 2006 that is committed to fundamental research in biomass genomics, providing the scientific foundation to facilitate use of lignocellulosic materials for bioenergy and biofuels.  Since lignocellulosic crop plants are less intensive to produce and can grow on poorer quality land, competition with crops grown for food production is avoided. For more information on these awards, go to DOE’s site for the DOE-USDA biomass genomics research program.

DOE will provide $4 million in funding for four projects, while USDA will award $2.3 million to fund three projects.  Initial funding will support research projects for up to three years. 

Perhaps the most amazing fact from this announcement is that Secretary Chu is on facebook!  How does he find the time?  This attorney is impressed.  Check out his video announcement on next generation biofuels here.