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Senators Introduce Legislation to Support Growth of E85 and Cellulosic Ethanol

US Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Barack Obama (D-IL), Kit Bond (R-MO), George Voinovich (R-OH), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) recently introduced legislation to expand consumer access to E85.

The Ethanol Education and Expansion Act of 2007 would work to reduce prices at the pump for consumers by providing grants through the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to farmer-owned ethanol producers to install additional E85 pumps at rural gas stations as well as the equipment needed to sell E85 directly to gas stations.

Currently, most ethanol is sold to oil companies who then re-sell to gas stations, often at higher prices. This bill eliminates the middle man.

The bill would also create the new E85 Education Program, which would award competitive grants to non-profit organizations to educate gas station owners, vehicle fleet operators and the general public about the benefits and availability of E85.

Sen. Klobuchar will work to include the legislation in the 2007 Farm Bill, which the Senate is expected to take up in the coming months. The bill sets the amount of federal grant assistance at 20% of the total project cost, providing enough funding to complete 1,000-2,000 new E-85 pumps over the five-year life of the Farm Bill.

Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Hilary Clinton (D-NY), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), and John Kerry (D-MA) are also co-sponsors of the legislation.

Earlier in May, Senators Klobuchar, Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and Kent Conrad (D-ND), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced legislation to encourage American farmers to produce cellulosic energy crops. The Farm-to-Fuel Investment Act (S.1403) would provide transition assistance for farmers to grow dedicated energy crops.

The bill would provide three years of transition assistance to farmers who produce dedicated energy crops in an area 50 miles around a biorefinery that will produce fuels like cellulosic ethanol. Incentives are needed for the first few years because it takes about three years for crops like switchgrass to reach their first mature harvest. The three-year period also takes into account the time needed to develop a biorefinery to purchase the crop. After a market has developed and the crops have matured, the transition assistance would phase out.

To participate, farmers would have to agree to adopt conservation practices for soil quality, water quality and wildlife habitat. This legislation also allows for an additional incentive to farmers who produce native perennial energy crops, such as prairie grass mixtures, because of the tremendous conservation benefits those crops provide. Perennial grasses protect soil and water quality, sequester carbon, create wildlife habitat and save farmers money on fuel and fertilizer.



Robert Schwartz

The headline should be: "Senators Introduce Bill to Drive Price of Food Into Stratosphere."


I don't know about you, but i don't often get hungry for switchgrass or prairie grass.

Matt Parrish

Mmm, switchgrass!

C Harget

Some of the more popular high-fiber cereals certainly *seem* like they're made with switchgrass.

However, I'm a little suspicious of farm-state Senators pushing ethanol, because the easy money is in corn for awhile longer, and the oil saved is just not good enough there, unless you have a well-integrated cattle/dairy feedlot that makes efficient use of the protein and cellulose in the in the corn, and gives you meet and milk to boot.


Oh goodness....
Stratosphere? Really? And rising oil prices won't do the same thing? Food and gas are already subsidized and cheaper than what everyone else in the world pays.
And ethanol can and will be made from many different feedstocks. Corn is chosen because it is artificially cheap, allowing profitable investment in infrastructure that would otherwise not be able to compete. This is infrastructure we will need someday no matter what. Might as well build it now and start integrating it before we get the next Arab ambargo.

Ethanol and biodeisel fuel will allow you to actually have access to food products 10-20 years from now when there is not enough oil imports to run all our farms, semi trucks, and grocery stores.


I'm all for this. It's a whole lot better than corn ethanol. I really don't think anyone will starve to death because of this. Think about it. They're already growing corn for ethanol. So what's the big deal if they replace that same acreage with a much better energy crop with a higher yield?

I know that it will be nearly impossible to replace foreign oil with ethanol. The point is to put as much of dent in it as you can so that the gas prices aren't totally at the mercy of some foreign power that probably doesn't like us.


WHEN they get cellulose ethanol on a large enough scale, they can use the switch grass on the 50 million acres that we pay them to grow it to preserve the soil. Then they will have enough revenue that we will not have to pay them to grow win.


'what's the big deal if they replace that same acreage' [in corn production now, with switchgrass]?

Actually, switchgrass and miscanthus can be grown on marginal land so you don't have to take maize acreage
out of production; and that's a really big deal.



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--Perennial grasses protect soil and water quality, sequester carbon, create wildlife habitat and save farmers money on fuel and fertilizer.--

Hate it how this bullshit is spread.

Switchgrass isn't magical, it doesn't get to ignore the laws of conservation of matter, and conservation of energy.

Only reason switchgrass "needs less fertilizer" in a natural ecosystem is because the previous generation of switchgrass was the fertilizer for the next.

By taking switchgrass OUT of the system, it requires more and more inputs to keep the system going.

But then again people blithley go on their way thinking magical happy thoughts, thinking that all this money couldn't possibly be going to waste, just wasting our time, and fooling us into a false sense of accomplishment while the status quo goes on.

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