Recent Press Releases

Washington, D.C. —  Senator John Thune today announced several provisions in the Defense Authorization bill currently before the Senate dealing with military applications for renewable fuels. Specifically, Senator Thune worked to include research programs at South Dakota State University (SDSU) and the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T) which would assist in developing renewable fuels for military use.

"South Dakotans are well-acquainted with the civilian applications for renewable energy technology, but use of renewable energy by the military also holds great promise," said Thune. "Research that would be conducted in South Dakota could lead to a significant reduction in our military's dependence on petroleum based fuels that we import while creating jobs in South Dakota. I will continue working with my colleagues, military officials, and South Dakota research institutions to help our nation meet our renewable energy goals."

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Thune included $4 million for lignocellulosic research in the Defense Authorization Bill. Of that total, $3 million is directed to SDSU and $1 million is directed to the SDSM&T.

Researchers at SDSU would work on developing more cost-effective methods of producing synthetic JP-8, a jet fuel refined from lignocellulosic feedstocks. The SDSM&T project would focus on similar improvements to existing methods of biofuel conversion as well as researching new production techniques. Studies will focus particularly on biodiesel and biohydrogen production, as well as the conversion of biomass into hydrocarbon fuels.

The SDSM&T studies would focus on woody biomass resulting from forest products in the Black Hills. In addition to serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Thune is the Ranking Republican on the Agriculture Energy Subcommittee, and he serves on the Agriculture Forestry Subcommittee. Thune also included the Biomass Crop Assistance Program in last year's Farm Bill, which promotes the development of next generation biofuels such as those that can be produced from wood chips and slash piles found in the Black Hills and switchgrass.

The Defense Authorization bill also includes an amendment offered by Senator Thune that sets a goal for the Air Force to certify its entire fleet on a 50-50 blend of synthetic and conventional fuels by 2011. The B-1, B-52, C-17, F-15, and F-16 are already certified on synthetic blends. The amendment also sets the goal for the Air Force to acquire half of its domestic fuel requirement from domestically sourced synthetic fuel blend by 2016.

The Senate is expected to vote on the Defense Authorization bill by the end of the week.