Biofuels are liquid fuels—most often ethanol or biodiesel—that are made from plant- or animal-based sources called “biomass.” Biomass includes everything from corn to algae, and can also be used to produce electricity.
Non-food based biofuels—such as cellulosic biofuels made from grasses or farm waste—offer huge potential for cutting our oil use and fuel-related emissions. The best cellulosic-based ethanol, for example, can produce 90 percent fewer global warming emissions, compared to gasoline.
These aren’t far-off technologies, either. Cellulosic biofuel plants are being built across the country, while biofuels researchers and entrepreneurs are creating new oil-saving opportunities every day.
With the right support, the United States could, by 2030, sustainably produce enough non-food biomass resources to generate 54 billion gallons of ethanol each year—over four times what we currently produce. Getting there requires smart government policy and support, but it’s a crucial (and clean!) element of cutting U.S. oil use in half.