SALEM, Ohio – In his Jan. 23 State of the Union address, President George Bush called it ‘vital’ to diversify the U.S. energy supply and cut ties with foreign oil.
He challenged us to reduce gasoline use by 20 percent by 2017, which would represent three-quarters of all the oil we now import from the Middle East.
His answer to that oil deficit is massive increases in biofuels production.
For the millions of farmers nationwide with true interest in supplying or owning ethanol and biodiesel facilities, Bush’s challenge sounds like a grand idea.
Energy sources. In his address, Bush called for change in electric power generation, clean coal technology, solar and wind energy and nuclear power.
He also challenged researchers to “press on with battery research for plug-in and hybrid vehicles” and the rest of us to use more clean diesel and biodiesel.
And he urged continued investment in new methods of producing ethanol, including techniques that use wood chips, grasses and agricultural waste.
Already in action. The current Renewable Fuels Standard, established by the president and Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, has contributed to the recent growth of renewable fuels.
Under the current law, fuel blenders must use 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuels annually by 2012.
Increasing the supply of renewable fuels to 35 billion gallons by 2017 is at the center of the president’s “20 in 10” initiative.
To reach his 20 percent reduction goal, alternative fuels must come into play in a big way.
In fact, Bush is calling on Congress to set a mandatory fuels standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels to be produced by 2017.
That’s nearly five times the current level of production and, if implemented, would be a boon for American agriculture.
Positive reaction. Leaders of some of the nation’s largest farm groups are giving two thumbs up to Bush’s plan.
“For a long time farmers have been advocating for a greater use of renewable energy,” National Farmers Union president Tom Buis said.
“It is nice to see President Bush promoting policy we have long supported, increasing the use of fuels from the farm and decreasing our reliance on foreign oil.”
Ohio Corn Growers Association president Mark Drewes says the national corn growers’ group’s 15 x 15 x 15 vision – 15 billion bushels of corn used to produce 15 billion gallons of ethanol by 2015 –
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