Subcommittee Reviews Biomass Research Legislation

Oct 19, 1999

Washington, D.C. — Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Risk Management, Research, and Specialty Crops led by Chairman Tom Ewing (R-IL), reviewed the National Sustainable Fuels and Chemicals Act of 1999 (H.R. 2827) and issues related to the growing biomass industry.

"Because human activity will drastically reduce available fossil fuels during the next century, we must seek new ways to supply the energy needs of society," Ewing said.  "Advancements in biomass technology and usage have the potential to improve environmental health by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  H.R. 2827 would also improve America's strategic security by lowering American reliance on imported fossil fuels."

The development of the biomass industry will benefit the agriculture community as biomass products can be derived from plants, crop residues, wastes, and other organic sources.   Organic waste products once deemed worthless have the potential of becoming valuable commodities.  Byproducts such as corn cobs, sugar cane stalks, and rice hulls could create power and cleaner air.

Ewing introduced H.R. 2827 on September 9, 1999.  Specifically, this bill:

*    Creates a Sustainable Fuels and Chemicals Research Initiative that will integrate research and development efforts and provide research grants
*    Establishes a Sustainable Fuels and Chemicals Board with a technical advisory committee that will provide guidance to the Board in determining how to award    research funds
*    Authorizes the construction of a pilot plant for corn-based ethanol research

"While the title of this legislation may lead you to believe that this topic can be extremely technical in nature, the goal of the legislation is simple:  to fund research that will allow the co-production of food and chemicals from a single plant and to find ways to use an entire plant more efficiently in the production of bio-based products," Ewing said.  "Simply stated, this is a farmer-friendly and environmentally beneficial piece of legislation that has tremendous potential for the agricultural sector."