The U.S. Agriculture Department will commit hundreds of millions more dollars to boost biofuels production, including ethanol. The announcement could mean big investments in Minnesota, which ranks fourth in ethanol production.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says in the next couple of months he'll announce plans for his department to help pay for construction of five new biofuel plants across the country.
The USDA will also help install 10,000 ethanol blend pumps at gas stations over the next five years. Vilsack says he wants his department to help develop biofuels for jet airplane engines. He says the efforts will help build the nation's renewable energy industry.
"There needs to be a significant statement of committment," said Vilsack. "That's what we're trying to convey today, this administration is committed."
Vilsack says the USDA is also encouraging farmers to grow crops and trees that can provide raw material for the production of cellulosic ethanol.
Congress has mandated that national biofuels production increase to 36 billion gallons in 12 years, triple the current numbers.