Recent Press Releases

Thune Biofuel Program Underway

2008 Farm Bill Program Facilitating Renewable Energy Production

September 9, 2009

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has begun making payments to facilities converting nonedible plant material into biofuels and bioenergy through the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). Senator Thune authored BCAP, which was included in the 2008 Farm Bill.

"Biofuels and other forms of renewable energy will play an important role in reducing our overdependence on imported energy sources," said Thune. "The implementation of BCAP is a major step toward incorporating more of our nation's resources into our energy strategy. South Dakota is rich in biomass feedstocks, and as the second generation of biofuels begins to take shape our state will be at the forefront in renewable energy production."

There are now nine USDA-approved facilities across the nation participating in the first half of the program. Beginning in early 2010, BCAP will also provide per acre payments for the production of energy dedicated crops. Currently, BCAP offers a matching per-ton payment for the collection, harvest, storage and transportation of renewable biomass delivered and sold to a local biomass conversion facility. The per-ton payments are now available for eligible biomass owners who sell their biomass to approved ethanol plants and other biomass conversion facilities.

In August, Senator Thune toured the biofuels research facilities at South Dakota State University (SDSU) where researchers are studying the use of lignocellulosic feedstocks for renewable fuel production. Lignocellulosic biomass is any non-seed portion of a plant that can be used for bioenergy or biochemical production. The research being done at SDSU will provide innovative ways to utilize the feedstocks which are readily available in South Dakota and throughout the nation.

Suitable biomass for second-generation biofuel production includes prairie grasses, corn cobs, and wood chips and other forestry byproducts. South Dakota farmers and forestry operations are well-positioned to capitalize on our states resources for energy production.

Senator Thune also recently participated in a Senate Agriculture Committee Field Hearing in Sioux City, Iowa. The hearing focused on the artificial barriers erected by the federal government preventing increased biofuel production and consumption. Senator Thune questioned witnesses on the importance of second generation biofuels in the nation's energy portfolio.

Senator Thune is the ranking member of the Agriculture Energy Subcommittee and has been a leading advocate for increased biofuel production and use.