Bush has Colorado biofuels in mind for next year’s budget | SummitDaily.com

Bush has Colorado biofuels in mind for next year’s budget

LEAH MCBRIDEmedill news services

WASHINGTON – President Bush’s proposed budget contains good news for Colorado’s ethanol industry, Just how good will be determined by Congress, as it hashes out just how to divvy up the $2.77 trillion in the president’s budget blueprint. Bush wants to spend $150 million on researching biofuels, an increase of $59 million over the current fiscal year. In his State of the Union speech Jan. 31, the president declared his intention to develop new energy sources to drastically cut America’s reliance on Middle East oil over the next two decades. The increased funds would help stimulate more rapid development of ethanol as an alternative to oil, Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman said.The spending request for the Department of Energy is a significant increase in alternative energy programs that have been relatively stable in years past, he said. Bush asked Congress for $23.6 billion for the department, an increase of $124 million. “By increasing investment in biofuels, we’re advancing crucial research,” Bodman said. “We are certain America will remain at the forefront in an increasingly competitive world.”Although corn currently is the most advanced method for ethanol production, there is considerable interest in developing so-called “cellulosic biomass sources” like native grasses, wood chips and fast-growth trees. Although research is still in its infancy, cellulosic sources seem a promising future companion to corn for the production of ethanol, scientists say. Bernie Lange, communications director for the Colorado Corn Growers Association, said the industry has solved its weightiest problem: extracting ethanol from corn used more energy than the ethanol produced. But scientists are not fully satisfied.”There are still improvements you can make in terms of planned efficiencies, and getting more ethanol from that bushel of corn,” said Matt Hartwig, communications director of the Renewable Fuels Association.And Lange said more money should be put into educating people about the value of ethanol, and to identify new markets, such as fuel for jet planes and the next generation of hybrid cars.”People are just beginning to know what ethanol is,” Lange said, adding that one of the first ads was a commercial before and after the recent Super Bowl broadcast.Hartwig said ethanol can come from anything that grows.”Once someone can crack the code, to turn things like switchgrass and woodchips in an economically feasible manner,” he said, “Then those new energy crops will be in addition to grain, and allow the industry to grow.”

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