January 25, 2007
President's words on alternative fuel praised by ethanol producer
Copley News Service
Miller, president of Aventine Renewable Energy in Pekin and chairman
of the Renewable Fuels Association, on Wednesday praised President
Bush's call to increase the federal mandate for ethanol use in
In his State of the Union address
Tuesday night, Bush proposed a goal of reducing U.S. gasoline usage
by 20 percent in 10 years. To do so, he wants to require oil
companies to use 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative
fuels annually by 2017.
In a conference call with
reporters Wednesday, Miller called that goal "exceedingly
""As an ethanol producer, I can
say with confidence that our industry is up to the challenge,"
Congress in 2005 mandated the use
of 7.5 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol and other renewable
fuels a year, a level that could be soon reached. The ethanol
industry produced 4.9 billion gallons in 2006.
More than 111 ethanol biorefineries are currently in
operation in 19 states including 11 in Illinois, according to the
Renewable Fuels Association. Another 78 refineries are under
The goal of 35 billion gallons of
year can't be reached with ethanol alone, but would require the use
of other alternative fuels, Miller and others said. But they see
little threat to ethanol from the president's call for research into
cellulosic ethanol, which would be made from corn stalks, wood chips
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill, said he
was "heartened" to hear the president's concern about the need to
reduce reliance on foreign oil and to invest in renewable energy.
But he questioned whether those concerns would be reflected in the
president's budget proposal when it comes to Congress next month.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and
other Midwestern senators have proposed increasing the renewable
fuels mandate to 60 billion gallons a year by 2030.
Republican Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla.,
senior Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee, warned of unintended consequences from boosting the
federal mandate again so soon."We must carefully measure the
president's ambitious proposal to drastically increase the use of
alternative fuels," Inhofe said.
Livestock producers have
complained that current high demand for corn has driven up prices
Some groups noted that the
president proposes to change the mandate to include alternative
fuels, which could include what are known as coals-to-liquids fuels.
That small change in the name could create a big change in
pollution, said Anna Aurilio of U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
It could double the global warming pollution, she said.