The US fire fighting agency announced Tuesday that it has signed nearly $8 billion worth of contracts with major ethanol producers and processors to provide fuel to its fleet of firefighting planes.
The agency said it had signed on to three contracts totaling $2.2 billion for fuel to be used by its fleet and other aircraft and that it would begin selling fuel to the companies later this year.
The contracts are expected to last for four to five years.
The US is the world’s largest producer of ethanol, a crop that produces the primary ingredient in gasoline.
It also announced a $500 million deal with the state of Iowa to buy 100,000 gallons of fuel a month for the Iowa firefighting aircraft.
It also is acquiring about 8.5 million gallons of ethanol fuel for its firefighting vehicles.
“We’re pleased to be able to extend our partnership with the Iowa State Fire and Emergency Management Agency and will work closely with the agency to make our aviation fleet safer,” the US Air Force said in a statement.
“Ethanol is one of the most environmentally-friendly fuels available to aviation.”
“We are committed to protecting the environment and maintaining the safety of our aircraft, crews, and the communities they serve,” the agency added.
The US Air Corps also said it was purchasing fuel for the air force’s firefighting jet fleet and plans to buy up to 10,000 to 12,000 tons a year from ethanol producers.
“The ethanol fuel we purchase for the fuel-efficient aircraft is 100% biofuel, and our customers have said that it is an environmentally-safe fuel that meets our aircrews and crew-members’ safety and welfare requirements,” the Air Force told Reuters in a separate statement.