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U.S. Agriculture Secretary touts importance of low-carbon biofuels

By Stephanie Kelly

NEW ORLEANS, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The U.S. secretary of agriculture on Wednesday touted the importance lower-carbon biofuels will have in meeting the Biden administration's targets for reducing carbon emissions.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke of the administration's support for biofuels -- including lower-carbon aviation fuel, which can be made from plant oils and animal fat.

His speech, at the National Ethanol Conference in New Orleans, took place as the industry eagerly awaits final rulemakings from the Biden administration around the nation's biofuel blending law, the Renewable Fuel Standard.

The administration has taken a number of steps to support renewable fuels, Vilsack said in a video message at the conference.

One of those is a program that authorizes Vilsack to make payments to U.S. biofuel producers to offset unexpected market losses from the COVID-19 pandemic. Up to $700 million in payments to eligible biofuel producers is available, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's website. (Reporting by Stephanie Kelly; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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