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Agricultural News


Senator Stabenow: Advanced Biofuels to Grow Economy, Create Jobs, Lower Prices at the Pump

Tue, 08 Apr 2014 10:25:11 CDT

Senator Stabenow: Advanced Biofuels to Grow Economy, Create Jobs, Lower Prices at the Pump
Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today said that advanced, non-food based biofuels are critical to growing our economy, creating jobs and lowering prices at the pump for American consumers. Stabenow noted the 2014 Farm Bill, which was signed into law in February, included a robust energy title which is helping farmers and businesses to increase production of energy from non-food sources, boost rural economies and spur continued growth of a new, domestic energy sector that will reduce the need for foreign oil.


“We’ve heard for years that advanced biofuels are just around the corner. Well, we’re here. We’re at the point where it’s actually happening,” Chairwoman Stabenow said. “American companies are creating jobs and growing rural economies while producing advanced biofuels, which ultimately help us become more energy independent and lower our gas prices at the pumps.”


Stabenow pointed to an Iowa State University study which found that using ethanol reduced the cost of gas by 89 cents across the country, and by as much as $1.37 in the Midwest.


“These are enormous savings for American families. In the U.S., we consumed about 138 billion gallons of gasoline in 2010. That comes out to about 446 gallons per person, or 892 gallons for a family of four. That family would have saved $794 in 2010 because of biofuels. According to USDA figures, that $794 comes out to be the cost of 2 to 5 weeks’ worth of groceries.”


The 2014 Farm Bill, authored by Chairwoman Stabenow, included significant new investments in renewable energy programs which are helping farmers and businesses generate on-farm energy by harnessing new technologies. An overview of the Farm Bill’s energy initiatives can be found here.


“To continue growing this industry, we need policies that support it,” Chairwoman Stabenow said. “This Committee and Congress took an important first step by passing the Farm Bill with funding for the Energy Title, now we need to provide certainty through a strong Renewable Fuel Standard and tax credits to support long term investments in our energy future.”


Witnesses at the hearing included Mr. Richard Childress, CEO, Richard Childress Racing, LLC, Welcome, NC; Mr. Jan Koninckx, Global Business Director for Biorefineries, DuPont Industrial Biosciences, Wilmington, DE; Mr. Brooke Coleman, Executive Director, Advanced Ethanol Council, Boston, MA; Dr. Sumesh Arora, Vice President, Innovate Mississippi; Director of Strategic Biomass Solutions, Ridgeland, MS; and Ms. Nancy Young, Vice President, Environmental Affairs, Airlines for America, Washington, DC.


An archived webcast of the hearing can be viewed on the Committee’s website at http://ag.senate.gov.


Below are Chairwoman Stabenow’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:


Good Morning. Thank you all for being here today as we take a look at advanced biofuels and the tremendous progress that has been made in this area.


We’ve heard for years that advanced biofuels are just around the corner. Well, we’re here. We’re at the point where it’s actually happening. I’m sure our panel will touch on some of these success stories but I just want to highlight a few - Ineos Bio has announced it is producing cellulosic ethanol at a commercial scale. Sapphire Energy announced that it had paid off its entire $54 million USDA Energy Title loan, and will be producing 100 barrels of “green crude” per day from algae by 2015. POET’s “Project Liberty” broke ground last spring and is on pace to begin producing cellulosic ethanol from corn stover this year. And DuPont, which is represented on our panel today, is expected to produce cellulosic ethanol from stover in Iowa later this year.


As I have said before, the Farm Bill is a Jobs Bill, and that is why I am so proud of our work in the Energy Title. The Energy Title funds critical programs to help our farmers produce energy from non-food sources and helps companies get low interest loans for these facilities. Of course, all of this creates jobs. We are going to hear from representatives of companies that are out there doing just that. They are creating jobs and growing rural economies while producing advanced biofuels, which ultimately help us become more energy independent and lower our gas prices at the pumps.


Some of you may be surprised to learn that my home state of Michigan was actually an early adopter of ethanol. In 1896, Henry Ford designed his first car, the Quadricycle, which was also known as the “horseless carriage,” to run on pure ethanol. When it was released in 1908, Ford’s Model T was able to run on gasoline, ethanol or a combination of the two. Henry Ford continued to advocate for ethanol as a fuel, but the lower price and abundance of oil made it more attractive to consumers at the time. Yet, today, we are still working to make ethanol more competitive in the U.S. That is not the case in places like Brazil.


I know that the oil companies do not want folks to know this, but I was in Brazil with Secretary Vilsack last summer and Brazil’s gasoline is blended with ethanol at nearly a 30% rate. In fact, they have lower gas prices because of the higher blends. Meanwhile here in the United States, ethanol makes up 10% of our fuel supply. An Iowa State University study found that, in 2010, using ethanol reduced the cost of gas by 89 cents across the country - and by as much as $1.37 in the Midwest. These are enormous savings for American families. In the U.S., we consumed about 138 billion gallons of gasoline in 2010. That comes out to about 446 gallons per person, or 892 gallons for a family of four. I could drive from DC to Los Angeles and back four times on 892 gallons. That family would have saved $794 in 2010 because of biofuels. According to USDA figures, that $794 comes out to be the cost of 2 to 5 weeks’ worth of groceries.


Biofuels are making a big difference, and could make an even bigger difference. It is our goal to making sure we move to non-food based advanced biofuels. It’s happening, and in places that some may not be aware of. As we will hear today, some of our airlines have undertaken their own biofuel initiatives because it makes good business sense for them to do so. But to continue growing this industry, we need policies that support it. This Committee and Congress took an important first step by passing the Farm Bill with funding for the Energy Title, now we need to provide certainty through a strong Renewable Fuel Standard and tax credits to support long term investments in our energy future.


Getting off foreign oil is in our strategic interest. By doing so, we’ll be saving money and be saving lives.



   

 

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