President-elect Obama’s choice for Secretary of Agriculture sailed through his Senate confirmation hearings this week and may be confirmed in time to take office on Inauguration Day.
As expected, former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack faced no opposition in the Senate and no controversial questioning.
With regard to biofuels in general and ethanol in particular, Vilsack stressed the importance of moving quickly into second generation cellulosic ethanol to address the issue of using food crops to make fuel. Vilsack said when it comes to ethanol, it is important to realize it’s “not just corn, and not just the Midwest can benefit.”
Sen. John Thune (R-SD) questioned Vilsack about the “blend wall” issue and the need to increase the level of ethanol approved for regular vehicles above ten percent. While Vilsack did not directly answer the question, he stressed that “USDA has a very, very important role to play in making sure we provide the research and the focus and direction to meet whatever the requirements are,” and said he has already spoken with the nominee for the Environmental Protection Agency about the biofuels issue and how they will work together on it.
Watch Thune’s questioning of Vilsack here on YouTube: