Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Announce Largest Ever Government Purchase of Biofuel
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Announce Largest Ever Government Purchase of Biofuel
Biofuel Purchase Advances President Obama’s Energy Security Goals
WASHINGTON, December 5, 2011 —Today, U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) signed a contract to purchase 450,000 gallons of advanced drop-in biofuel, the single largest purchase of biofuel in government history. While the Navy fleet alone uses more than 1.26 billion gallons of fuel each year, this biofuel purchase is significant because it accelerates the development and demonstration of a homegrown fuel source that can reduce America’s, and our military’s, dependence on foreign oil.
The Defense Department will purchase biofuel made from a blend of non-food waste (used cooking oil) from the Louisiana-based Dynamic Fuels, LLC, a joint-venture of Tyson Foods, Inc., and Syntroleum Corporation, and algae, produced by Solazyme. The fuel will be used in the U.S. Navy’s demonstration of a Green Strike Group in the summer of 2012 during the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC), the world’s largest international maritime exercise.
As part of his energy security goals, outlined in March 2011 in the “Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future,” President Obama directed the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and Navy to work together to advance a domestic industry capable of producing “drop-in” biofuel substitutes for diesel and jet fuel. Responding to that challenge, in August 2011, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Energy and Navy announced an intention to invest up to $510 million during the next three years in partnership with the private sector to produce advanced drop-in biofuel to power military and commercial transportation. While that investment awaits Congressional action, today’s announcement uses the existing authority – leveraging Defense Department procurement – to support this energy security goal.
“The Navy has always led the nation in transforming the way we use energy, not because it is popular, but because it makes us better war fighters,” stated Secretary Mabus. “This unprecedented fuel purchase demonstrates the Obama Administration’s commitment to seeking energy security and energy independence by diversifying our energy supply.”
“In March, the President challenged me, Secretary Mabus, and Secretary Steven Chu to work with the private sector to cultivate a competitively-priced—and domestically produced—drop-in biofuel industry that can power not just fighter jets, but also trucks and commercial airliners,” said Secretary Vilsack, “Today’s announcement continues our efforts to meet that challenge. This is not work we can afford to put off for another day.”
The biofuel will be mixed with aviation gas or marine diesel fuel for use in the Green Strike Group demonstration. It is a drop-in fuel, which means that no modifications to the engines are required to burn the fuel. Its cultivation did not interfere with food supply and burning the fuel does not increase the net carbon footprint. In preparation for this demonstration, the Navy recently completed testing of all aircraft, including F/A-18 and all six blue Angels and the V-22 Osprey, and has successfully tested the RCB-X (Riverine Command Boat), training patrol craft, Self Defense Test Ship, and conducted full-scale gas turbine engine testing.
DLA will pay half the price for the Green Strike Group biofuel than it paid for biofuel for testing in 2009. Increased demand will likely continue this trend toward more cost-effective biofuel. Renewable jet fuel produced by Dynamic Fuels has already been used in regularly scheduled commercial airline flights by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Finnair, Thomson Airways, and Alaska Airlines.
“This contract clearly demonstrates that we’re building momentum for the continued commercialization of advanced renewable fuels production here in the U.S.,” said Andy Rojeski, a management committee member for Dynamic Fuels, a joint venture between Tyson Foods, Inc. and Syntroleum Corporation. “We believe the federal government’s commitment to procure more energy from renewable sources will help make our high performance, environmentally friendly fuel more cost competitive, potentially creating more jobs in the biofuels industry.”
“This historic contract is a major step forward for America’s energy security and the advanced biofuel industry in our country. Solazyme has delivered more than 360,000 liters of 100 percent algal derived renewable diesel to the U.S. Navy for their fuel certification program to date. The United States leads the world in advanced biofuel technology, and the Departments of Agriculture, Energy and the Navy have been instrumental in coming together to spur commercialization and grow our lead,” said Jonathan Wolfson, CEO, Solazyme. “We are honored to be working with the U.S. Navy and DLA-Energy in driving forward the Navy’s effort under Secretary Ray Mabus to source 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. And we are proud to be teaming up with Dynamic Fuels on this contract.”
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES STAFF CHANGES
Washington, DC – The Office of the Vice President announced today that Courtney O’Donnell, Director of Communications to Second Lady Jill Biden, will leave the White House to move to Berlin, Germany with her family where she plans to work on projects based in Europe. O’Donnell will be succeeded by Melanie Kaye, who most recently worked at a DC-area advertising and communications consulting firm.
Dr. Jill Biden said: “Since Inauguration Day, Courtney has served as a trusted advisor to me and our entire team. Her creativity and strategic thinking helped us build campaigns to showcase the strengths of community colleges, support our nation’s military families, fight breast cancer, and draw attention and resources to the issues in the Horn of Africa. Her expertise, graceful demeanor and tireless work ethic have been invaluable not just to me but to the entire office of the Vice President. Joe and I are extremely grateful for her tremendous contributions and we wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”
Melanie Kaye comes to the White House from GMMB, where she provided strategic communications counsel on a variety of issues, including public health topics such as cancer, tobacco and obesity, health care reform, workforce and workplace issues, and education, among others. Before that, she served as Press Secretary to former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, both in his office and during his successful 2006 re-election campaign. Melanie also worked as a reporter for several years for publications including The Hill newspaper. A native of Wisconsin, Kaye received her Bachelors of Arts from St. Norbert College and began work on her master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin’s Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT RECEPTION FOR KENNEDY CENTER HONOREES
The East Room
THE PRESIDENT: I’m ad libbing here a little bit. (Laughter.)*
5:29 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Well, good evening, everybody. Welcome to the White House. What a spectacular looking crowd here. (Laughter.) I want to start by thanking David Rubenstein, Michael Kaiser, and the Kennedy Center Trustees, and everyone who has made the Kennedy Center such a wonderful place for so many people for so many years. I also want to acknowledge my good friend, Caroline Kennedy, for continuing her family’s legacy of supporting the arts. And finally, I want to thank the creator of the Kennedy Center Honors and the Co-Chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, George Stevens. (Applause.) George and his son, Michael, are still bringing this show to life after 34 years, and we are grateful to both of them. So — (applause.)
Tonight, we honor five giants from the world of the arts — not just for a single role or a certain performance, but for a lifetime of greatness. And just to be clear, this doesn’t mean that they’re over the hill. (Laughter.) It just means they’ve come a long way.
Now, at first glance the men and women on this stage could not be more different. They come from different generations, different walks of life. They have different talents, and they’ve traveled different paths. And yet they belong here together. Because each of tonight’s honorees has felt the need to express themselves and share that expression with the world.
It’s a feeling that all of us have at some point in our lives. That’s why we sing, even if it’s just in the shower. (Laughter.) It’s why we act, even if we never get past the school auditorium. That’s why we dance, even if, as Michelle says, I look silly doing it. (Laughter.) It’s one of the downsides of being President: Your dance moves end up on YouTube. (Laughter.)
But tonight’s honorees take it a step further. By expressing themselves, they help us learn something about ourselves. They make us laugh. They move us to tears. They bring us together, and they push the boundaries of what we think is possible. And each of them has been blessed with an extraordinary gift. Tonight, we thank them for sharing that gift with us.
Barbara Cook has been said to have the most magnificent voice in popular music. But she was born into a family that didn’t know the first thing about singing. Growing up, while the other kids in her neighborhood were out playing hide and seek, Barbara would be inside listening to opera on the radio. By the time she was 23, Barbara was starring in her first Broadway show, and she went on to win a Tony for her performance as the original “Marian the Librarian” in “The Music Man.”
But success didn’t come without pain, and she faced more than her share of challenges before a show-stopping concert at Carnegie Hall in 1975 catapulted her back into the spotlight. Barbara’s greatest strength has always been her ability to put her own feelings and experiences into her songs. As she says, “If I sing about emotion, and you say, yes, I’ve felt that, too, then it brings us together, even if it’s just for a little while.”
These days, Barbara has been through enough to sing just about anything. So now she teaches up-and-coming singers to do the same. The lesson always starts with “Be yourself,” a piece of advice that she has always taken to heart. Maybe that’s what has kept her so young. And Barbara says that some days she feels like she is 30, and tonight you look like you’re 30. (Laughter.) Some days she feels like she’s 12, although her knee apparently does not agree. (Laughter.)
All we know is that we’ve never heard a voice like hers, so tonight we Barbara — honor Barbara Cook. (Applause.)
Neil Diamond’s songwriting career began like so many others — he was trying to impress a girl. (Laughter.) The difference was that it worked and he went on to marry the girl. As Neil says, “I should have realized then the potential power of songs and been a little more wary.” (Laughter.)
Even after such a promising start, music wasn’t Neil’s first choice. He wanted to go to medical school and find a cure for cancer. But then he met reality, which for him came in the form of organic chemistry. (Laughter.) Neil ended up dropping out of college to take a $50-a-week songwriting job, and the “Solitary Man” was born. With a voice he describes as being full of gravel, potholes, left turns and right turns, he went on to sell more than 125 million records. Elvis and Frank Sinatra asked to record versions of his songs, and today, Neil is the rare musician whose work can be heard everywhere from kids’ movies to Red Sox games. (Laughter.)
When someone asked him why “Sweet Caroline” remains so popular, Neil said, “It’s because anybody can sing, no matter how many drinks you’ve had.” (Laughter.)
Now, his shirts aren’t as flashy as they used to be — I noticed you’re buttoned up all the way to the top there. (Laughter.) Neil can still — (laughter) — Neil can still put a generation of fans in their seats.
And so tonight, we honor one of the great American songwriters for making us all want to sing along. Thank you, Neil Diamond. (Applause.)
When Sonny Rollins was growing up, he and his friends would sneak into jazz clubs by drawing mustaches on themselves — (laughter) — with an eyebrow pencil — (laughter) — to try to look older. Did that work, Sonny? (Laughter.) We don’t know if it fooled anybody, but they did get into the clubs.
Harlem in the 1930s was a hotbed of jazz, and for a young musician with a big horn and bigger dreams, it was heaven. Duke Ellington and Coleman Hawkins lived around the corner. Sonny learned melody and harmony from Thelonious Monk, and Miles Davis was a regular playing partner.
It wasn’t long before Sonny earned the nickname “the Saxophone Colossus,” and became known as one of the greatest improvisers in the history of jazz. Today, he often plays hour-long solos without any repetition, leaving audiences speechless. People sometimes wonder how he can play for so long, but in Sonny’s words, “It just means there’s something out there, and I know I have to find it.”
Sonny also loves to roam the crowd during a performance. One story goes that he was halfway through a solo one night when he jumped off the stage and disappeared. (Laughter.) Just when the band was about to go looking for him, the solo started back up. Sonny had broken his foot and was lying on the floor, but he finished the set with so much energy and passion, the audience didn’t notice.
To hear Sonny tell it, he’s just keeping things pure. “The worst thing in the world to me is to play by rote,” he says. “You have to play from the inside; that’s real jazz.”
So tonight, we honor a real jazz master, Mr. Sonny Rollins. (Applause.)
Meryl Streep was once described as a cross between a den-mother and a class cutup. (Laughter.) I don’t know who that was, but — (laughter.)
When a reporter asked Clint Eastwood why he chose Meryl to star opposite him in “The Bridges of Madison County,” he shrugged and replied, “She’s the greatest actor in the world.” At 15, Meryl won the role of “Marian the Librarian” — there’s a theme here — (laughter) — in her high school’s production of “The Music Man,” following the footsteps of her idol, Barbara Cook. (Laughter.) That led to Yale drama school, and then to Hollywood, where Meryl won two Oscars in 4 years. And then she turned 38 — (laughter) — which, in Washington at least, according to Meryl, is the sell-by date for Hollywood actresses. And she remembers turning to her husband, Don, and saying, “Well, it’s over.”
Luckily, it was not over. Since then, Meryl has tackled incredibly complex roles, ranging from Julia Child to, most recently, Margaret Thatcher. Today, she’s the most nominated actress in the history of the Academy Awards. She’s tossed aside more than a few stereotypes along the way. Each of her roles is different, and different from what we expect Meryl Streep to be. As she says, “I’ve picked the weirdest little group of personalities, but I think they’ve all deserved to have a life.”
For giving life to those characters and joy to so many of us, let’s give Meryl Streep a round of applause. (Applause.)
One final honoree is something of a regular here at the White House. I was telling him we need to give him a room. (Laughter.) The Blue Room, the Red Room, and the Yo-Yo Ma room. (Laughter.) We keep inviting him, and for some reason, he keeps on coming back. (Laughter.)
When Yo-Yo Ma took his first cello lesson, there wasn’t a chair short enough for him, so he sat on three phone books instead. By the age of 4, he was learning the Bach suites. At age 7, he was performing for President Kennedy in this room. Today, he has 16 Grammys and is considered one of the greatest classical musicians alive.
But maybe the most amazing thing about Yo-Yo Ma is that everybody likes him. (Laughter.) You’ve got to give me some tips. (Laughter and applause.) It’s remarkable.
In a profession known for, let’s face it, some temperament among its stars, Yo-Yo is a little different. He named one of his 300 year old cellos “Petunia.” He’s a big hugger. (Laughter.) For every question you ask him, he asks you two in return. He’s been named one of People Magazine’s sexiest men alive. (Laughter.) He has appeared on Sesame Street; I thought about asking him to go talk to Congress. (Laughter and applause.)
And yet, somehow, he’s also found the time to become one of the most innovative and versatile musicians in the world. Yo-Yo likes to say that his goal is to take listeners on a trip with him and make a lasting connection. His sense of curiosity has driven him to experiment from everything from the Argentine tango to Chinese folk music, and he has brought musicians from around the world together with the sheer force of his personality. As he says, “If I know what music you love, and you know what music I love, we start out having a better conversation.”
The great Pablo Casals once described himself as a human being first, a musician second, and a cellist third. There is no doubt that Yo-Yo Ma is a great musician and a great cellist, but tonight we also honor him because he is a great human being.
Thank you, Yo-Yo Ma. (Applause.)
Barbara Cook, Neil Diamond, Sonny Rollins, Meryl Streep, Yo-Yo Ma: At a time of year when Americans everywhere are counting their blessings, we want to give thanks to their extraordinary contributions. They have been blessings to all of us. We are grateful that they’ve chosen to share their gifts, to enrich our lives, and to inspire us to new heights.
And I think, for all of us, each of us can probably remember some personal moment — Michelle, during the rope line, was talking about how her dad loved jazz and could hear Sonny Rollins blasting through their little house on South Side. And it’s true — everybody sings Neil Diamond songs no matter how many drinks they’ve had. (Laughter.)
Yo-Yo Ma, unfortunately my association with him is studying at law school, listening to Bach and his — no, it soothed my mind. (Laughter.)
Meryl Streep, anybody who saw “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” had a crush on her. I assume they — everybody remembers that. (Laughter.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.) (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I’m ad libbing here a little bit. (Laughter.)*
So each of them have made these extraordinary contributions, and it’s worthwhile, then, for us to commit ourselves to making this a place where the arts can continue to thrive. Because right now, somewhere in America, there is a future Kennedy Center honoree — practicing on some phone books, or writing songs to impress a girl, or wondering if she can cut it on the big stage. Let’s make sure our young people can dream big dreams, and follow them as far as they can go. And let’s make sure the arts continue to be an important — no, a critical part of who we are in the kind of world that we want to live in.
Tonight, we congratulate all our extraordinary honorees. Thank you very much. (Applause.)