FORESTRY AND WOOD WASTES COULD BE KEY FEEDSTOCKS FOR BIOFUEL PRODUCTION
Santa Fe, New Mexico, May 17, 2004 — Significant technology exists to produce large quantities of ethanol from U.S. wood wastes and forestry products within the next 5 years, according to presentations given at the New Mexico Green Energy Symposium last week in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The symposium, part of the ongoing Ethanol Across America education campaign, was jointly sponsored by the Clean Fuels Development Coalition, the New Mexico Energy Office, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture through the Forest Service. The American Coalition for Ethanol, the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition, the New Uses Council, General Motors, and several other organizations helped sponsor this event as well.
"The general consensus was that we have a number of promising technologies to convert this type of biomass into fuel, power, and chemicals, and from a policy perspective we are going to need them all," said Douglas Durante, Director of the Ethanol Across America program. "While some of these technologies are competing, whether it is gasification, acid or enzymatic hydrolysis, or some combination of technology, many are very close to commercialization." The workshop provided an opportunity for participants to understand the markets, policy drivers behind those markets, and the status of feedstock and technology developments.
Merlin Bartz, Special Assistant to USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Mark Rey, told the audience that "within the framework of the President's National Energy Policy, one of USDA's goals is to increase the use of biomass from agricultural and forest lands as a source of bio-energy, bio-products, and bio-fuels, including ethanol. Through the Energy Title of the Farm Bill, the President's Healthy Forests Initiative, and the passage of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act, we will improve environmental quality, create stronger rural economies, reduce reliance on foreign oil, and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire by turning ag and forestry waste into ethanol, bio oils, and a range of other energy products." Bartz suggested that it was important to build upon the successes in the corn-to-ethanol arena and apply these experiences to new emerging technologies from biomass.
One outcome of the symposium was the likely formation of a New Mexico fuels advisory committee in order to identify the most appropriate programs and incentives to increase the use of green fuels. "We are on the right track. Individual states need to assess what works best for them and USDA will support those efforts in any way we can," said Bartz.
Additional symposiums are being planned in other parts of the country in the coming months. For more information on ethanol, alternative fuels, and related subjects, log onto www.ethanolacrossamerica.net.
Ethanol Across America is a non-profit, non-partisan education campaign of the Clean Fuels Foundation and is sponsored by industry, government, and private interests. U.S. Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Conrad Burns (R-MT), Co-Chairmen. For more information, log on to www.ethanolacrossamerica.net.
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