Bio-fuel program draws strong Valley interest

FRESNO, Calif.

The U.S. Navy has begun using alternative fuels and would like to see camelina acreage increase in the Valley. FA-18 Super Hornets from Lemoore NAS have already tested camelina-based bio-fuel. By 2020 the U.S. Navy wants 50% of its liquid fuel to come from alternative sources.

Lt. Damian Blazy explained, "This past weekend the Blue Angels flew on bio-fuel as the ultimate confidence test of naval platforms test on bio-fuel."

Lt. Blazy told growers gathered at Harris Ranch in Coalinga the U.S Navy is committed to using alternative fuels. "By next year we're going to have an entire fleet certified to run on a 50-50 mixture of bio-fuel and traditional petroleum."

Some growers have grown test plots of camelina. The seeds are crushed into oil and turned into bio-fuel.

Airline companies also see camelina as a viable alternative fuel. Hortencia Barton is the Domestic Fuel Supply Manager for American Airlines. She said, "We're very interested in having domestic production of the feed stock that's going into these alternative fuels and one of the reasons is that it is for security and supply reasons."

Camelina is seen by some as a suitable crop for plots which have been fallowed because it doesn't require much water. Sustainable Oils President Scott Johnson said, "We've got mostly west side growers who are working and looking at this as an opportunity to grow a crop during winter, during the rainy season without any supplemental irrigation."

Under the USDA Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP), growers can get a 70-dollar government advance to grow camelina.

Signups for the program end September 16th.

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