White House official: Congress 'short-sighted' on biofuels

Those measures were in response to reports that the Navy’s “Great Green Fleet” aircraft carrier strike group was testing a $26-per-gallon biofuel and petroleum mixture during its six-week naval exercise in the Pacific Rim.

Noting that a $1 dollar rise in gas prices would cost the Defense Department $30 million, Zichal said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has championed biofuels as an important part of the department’s energy mix. Preventing the department from accessing biofuels would exacerbate supply chain disruptions and exposure to petroleum market volatility, she said, citing Panetta.

“Some folks, especially here in Washington, are resistant to change even when it is so clearly needed,” Zichal said.

Zichal also touched on the role biofuels play in rural communities, calling that industry a job creator. Those programs have helped boost U.S. biofuels production more than 40 percent through the past three years, enabling the nation to produce more domestic biofuels than ever before, she said.

But some programs that support rural biofuels development are slated for cuts in the House farm bill. The bill contains only discretionary funding for rural energy programs and sheds $500 million from those programs compared with 2008 authorized levels.

“It’s not the right time to sit back as clean energy tax credits expire and workers get laid off,” Zichal said.