Recent Press Releases

Thune Legislation to Jumpstart Cellulosic Ethanol Included in Farm Bill Conference Report

--Biofuels Innovation Program Would Diversify Ethanol Production in South Dakota and Across the Country--

May 14, 2008

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today announced that the 2008 Farm Bill Conference Report (H.R. 2419) Energy Title includes his Biofuels Innovation Program, which would jumpstart the production of cellulosic ethanol produced from switchgrass, other native grasses and biomass feedstocks such as wood chips and crop residue.

"Our nation is facing significant challenges due to our dependence on foreign energy. Cellulosic ethanol has the potential to be a part of our long-term domestic energy strategy," said Thune. "My Biofuels Innovation Program provisions included in the Farm Bill will take comprehensive steps to expand cellulosic refining capability across the United States and to ensure that the necessary feedstocks are available in proximity to refineries.

"With the significant potential our state holds for producing ample supplies of cellulosic ethanol feedstock such as switchgrass, South Dakota would be at the epicenter of the next generation of renewable fuels production. The exciting progress being made in the renewable fuels sector is expanding the industry, and increased cellulosic ethanol production will give even more South Dakota farmers and other agriculture producers across the nation the ability to produce home-grown fuels to displace our nation's dangerous dependence on foreign sources of energy."

The new Farm Bill energy program would provide a cost-share payment and per-acre rental payment to producers who agree to growing energy-dedicated crops for a local biorefinery. This program would also provide a per-ton payment to farmers for collecting, storing, and transporting biomass (such as corn cobs) to cellulosic ethanol plants. Such targeted assistance is critical to commercializing cellulosic ethanol.

South Dakota State University and other institutions across the country are conducting research on the process of converting switchgrass into ethanol with the help of the Sun Grant Initiative, which is also reauthorized by the Farm Bill.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the Farm Bill Conference Report later today and the Senate is expected to act soon thereafter.