Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry has proposed that the state spend $40 million over a four-year period to create an Oklahoma Bioenergy Center (OBC) to focus on bioenergy research, development and education.
Biofuels research supported by the OBC would include development of feedstocks (primarily cellulosic biomass), collection and transportation, conversion technologies and distribution. Because the center would provide a particular boost for the state’s rural and agricultural economy, it would also feature an education component to help interested farmers and ranchers make the transition to energy crops and adopt best management practices.
Oklahoma produces many promising energy crops, such as switchgrass and other native grasses. The University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation would be founding consortium members and integral to the mission of the OBC.
Coupled with the state’s oil and gas industry, Gov. Henry said, the OBC would make Oklahoma a leader in the energy arena.
A thriving oil and gas industry certainly does not nullify our need to pursue other sources of energy. In fact, more and more oil companies today are making the necessary investments in alternative energy. Aside from the concerns stemming from our dependence on foreign oil, the fact is that oil continues to get harder and harder to find and more expensive to produce. The emerging economic powers of China and India only mean more intense competition for the oil that does exist.—Governor Henry