Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune, as Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Energy Subcommittee, will conduct a public hearing on Monday, August 18th, on the subject of transforming forest waste into biofuels. The hearing will also address the current prohibition on ethanol produced from forest waste counting towards the Renewable Fuels Standard. The hearing will take place at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T), in Rapid City, South Dakota.

“Homegrown renewable fuels like cellulosic ethanol can play an important part in reducing our nation’s dangerous dependence on imported energy,” said Thune. “Waste materials from the Black Hills National Forest and other federal lands and lumber mills could provide sufficient quantities of renewable biomass that would make large scale cellulosic production possible across the country without impacting our food supply.

“Unfortunately, the current definition of renewable biomass excludes forest waste materials, which are available as a result of forest management plans, from being converted to cellulosic ethanol and counting towards the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). This hearing will examine how modifying the definition of renewable biomass to include cellulosic ethanol manufactured from forest byproducts would provide a critical tool to better manage private lands and National Forests -- while also producing additional homegrown and sustainable sources of energy.”

In January of this year, in an effort to make biofuels manufactured from waste products from the Black Hills National Forest and other federal forestland count towards the RFS, Senator Thune introduced legislation to change the definition of “renewable biomass,” which currently excludes material gathered in national forests. Because of a last minute change sought by environmental groups as part of the 2007 Energy bill, biofuels produced from wood waste and forest byproducts do not count towards the Renewable Fuels Standard– even though such biofuels were eligible under the 2005 Energy Bill.

Senator Thune will be joined by a panel of experts in both the ethanol and forestry industries.

The hearing, which is open to the public, will begin at 2:00 PM Mountain Time on Monday, August 18th, in Room 204 of the Classroom Building at SDSM&T.