Innovation for the Next Generation of Biofuels

National Wildlife Federation Praises Introduction of Biofuels Bill Washington D.C. (May 23) – The National Wildlife Federation today applauded introduction of an innovative bill in the U.S. Senate by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Ben Nelson (D-NE) to help farmers switch to growing a new generation of biofuel crops. The Biofuels Innovation Program would enroll up to five million acres of land to promote the sustainable production of next generation biomass energy. “Biofuels represent a big part of our energy future, and this bill represents a groundbreaking new direction,” says Larry Schweiger, President and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Native grasses, trees, and other plants have the potential to double energy yields per acre, with just a fraction of the energy needed to produce corn-based ethanol. As these new technologies come on line, they will be key to our future clean energy production. The use of these fuels will also help stem global warming by decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and storing carbon.” “We salute Sen. Thune and Sen. Nelson for their vision and commitment to moving our nation towards a new energy future that will benefit both wildlife and farmers,” says Schweiger. The Biofuels Innovation Program would provide financial and technical assistance to landowners to produce native perennial energy crops and crop mixes in a manner that protects the nation’s soil, air, water and wildlife. The growing of these dedicated energy crops would help support the development or expansion of facilities that use the material for biofuels, electricity, heat, or bio-based products. The goal is to enact the bill under the energy title of the Farm Bill of 2007. “Farmers, hunters, and anglers will reap the benefits of this program,” says Julie Sibbing, National Wildlife Federation Senior Director for Agriculture Policy. ”Our native grasses which are so important to wildlife have been disappearing but this program provides an important incentive to plant mixes of natives that can do double duty for energy and wildlife while lessening our dependence on foreign oil.” The Biofuels Innovation Program would support a wide variety of feedstocks and technologies. In the true spirit of innovation, while the bill would support production of switchgrass for ethanol, it would also support jojoba for biodiesel, mixed prairie grasses for gasification to generate electricity, trees or grasses for “co-generation” of electricity, and other alternative energies. The bill has cost-share incentives for farmers to assist with storage, transportation, harvest and delivery of dedicated feedstocks as well as agriculture and forestry wastes. There are also incentives to remove exotic species for use as energy. In order for a facility that uses biomass to be economically viable, the biomass it utilizes must be grown within a relatively concentrated area to ensure manageable transportation costs. Most experts describe this area as being within a 50 to 70 mile radius of the facility. The legislation is designed to address this issue by requiring groups of landowners to come together to apply for funding as a project, rather than as individual landowners. “To avoid the worst impacts of global warming, we need to use energy more efficiently, and use clean energy technologies,” says Kurt Zwally, National Wildlife Federation Global Warming Solutions Manager. “The Biofuels Innovation Program provides an incentive to grow our energy future in a way that provides multiple benefits for farmers, wildlife, hunters and anglers and energy users. It’s a win-win-win plan.” The National Wildlife Federation is America’s conservation organization protecting wildlife for our children’s future. www.nwf.org .