President Obama reiterated his support of ethanol and biofuels this week, promising support for production facilities and distribution infrastructure, but he also called for unspecified reform of the tax incentives that support the industry.

In a speech on energy policy at Georgetown University in Washington, Obama called for more domestic production of petroleum and natural gas, plus conservation of energy, to reduce U.S. dependence on imported petroleum by one-third by 2025.   He derided the notion of “drill, baby, drill” expressed by some of his political opponents but called for expanded offshore oil exploration and production, “as long as it’s safe and responsible.”

Obama said ethanol and biofuels “made from things like switchgrass and wood chips and biomass” hold “tremendous promise” as a substitute for fossil fuels.  He said ethanol and biofuels need the same highly developed distribution system that exists for petroleum-based fuels.

“We’ve got to have that same kind of distribution network when it comes to our renewable energy sources so that when you are converting to a different kind of car that runs on a different kind of energy, you’re going to be able to have that same convenience,” Obama said. “Otherwise, the market won’t work; it won’t grow.”  Federal support for pipelines, storage tanks and fuel pumps is one of the key demands of the ethanol lobby.

“Over the next two years, we’ll help entrepreneurs break ground for four next-generation biorefineries–each with a capacity of more than 20 million gallons per year,” he said. “And going forward, we should look for ways to reform biofuels incentives to make sure that they’re meeting today’s challenges and that they’re also saving taxpayers money,” the president added.