My younger daughter is a graduate of the University of Nebraska, and while there, became a fan of Huskers football.
Going to a game there is always fun with a sell-out crowd of 85,000 fans. Since she graduated a few years back, we have continued to attend a football game or two each year when we can get tickets. The game we got tickets for this year was last Saturday, so we took off for Lincoln on Saturday morning, attended the game, then drove home following the afternoon contest.
The biggest difference between when I first started making this trip (eight-10 years back) and last week is what it costs me in fuel to get there and back. The gasoline bill this time was a troublesome total I noticed when covering the cost of each fill-up. The fuel price in Iowa still includes a reduced rate for the ethanol enhanced blend, but not Kansas or Missouri. I am glad, however, that I live close to where I work so I don't have to face filling up quiet as often.
In considering our nation's fuel situation, USDA has been working diligently in promoting biofuels as alternative sources of energy. In fact, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Energy for Navy Tom Hicks recently toured the USS Monterey (CG 61) at the Naval Station Norfolk and highlighted the current commitment to energy independence for the Nation's military. During the tour, Secretary Vilsack discussed the tremendous opportunities advanced biofuels hold for reducing America's dependence on foreign oil while creating more jobs in rural communities.
"Developing the next generation of advanced biofuels for our nation's military is both a national security issue and an economic issue," said Vilsack. "By utilizing renewable energy produced on American soil, our military forces will become less reliant on fuel that has to be transported long distances and often over supply lines that can be disrupted during times of conflict. Meanwhile, a strong and diverse biofuels industry will support good-paying jobs in rural America that can't be shipped overseas. Through this joint effort, USDA and the U.S. Navy have the opportunity to create a model for American energy security while ensuring the safety of our troops and the long-term viability of our armed forces."
"Secretary Vilsack's leadership and the work carried out by USDA on alternative fuel is so critical to the Navy's efforts to address a critical military vulnerability; our reliance on foreign oil," stated U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. "I am grateful that he took the time today to tour USS Monterey and meet some of our sailors. I am sure he came away as impressed with their professionalism and skill as I am always am."
Recently, the U.S. Navy powered the "Great Green Fleet," a Carrier Strike Group's aircraft and surface ships, on advanced biofuel to test the fuel's performance in an operational setting. The demonstration took place off the coast of Hawaii as part of the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC).
Secretary Mabus observed operations, which included fueling helicopters and jets from the deck of a nuclear-powered carrier; completing arrested landings of aircraft onto a carrier, the first ever using biofuels; refueling a destroyer while underway; and air-to-air refueling.
In addition to operating on alternative fuels, including nuclear power, the Great Green Fleet showcased energy efficiency technology that increase combat capability by allowing Navy ships to achieve greater range and by reducing dependence on a vulnerable logistics supply chain. More information on the demonstration, including a list of participating ships, is available at http://greenfleet.dodlive.mil/energy/gre....
USDA is working to develop the national biofuels industry producing energy from non-food sources in every region of the country. Working with private and government partners, USDA is supporting research into innovative energy technologies and processes, helping companies build biorefineries, including the first-ever commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities, and supporting farmers, ranchers, and businesses taking risks to pursue new opportunities in biofuels.
Editor's Note: Doug Niemeir is the County Executive Director for the USDA/Farm Service Agency. Doug may be reached by emailing him at Douglas.Niemeir@ks.usda.gov.