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Bush rolls out ambitious renewable fuels plan in State of the Union address

Agriculture.com Staff 01/23/2007 @ 8:13pm

In the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night, President George W. Bush outlined a new goal for future development of renewable fuels to lessen U.S. gasoline consumption by 20% in the next decade.

Bush's "Twenty by Ten" calls for a new mandatory renewable fuels standard of 35 billion gallons by 2017. This amounts to about five times the current level of production.

Doing so will require both expansion of current ethanol and biodiesel production capacity, but also the development of new technologies to expand the types of ethanol feedstocks, including cellulosic sources, such as wood chips and grasses.

"Tonight, I ask you to pursue with me a great goal: Reduce gasoline usage in the United States by 20% in the next 10 years. When we do that, we will have cut our total oil imports by as much as three-fourths of the total amount imported from the Middle East," President Bush said. "We must continue investing in new methods of producing ethanol using everything from wood chips to grasses to agricultural wastes. We've made a lot of good policies because of these advancements and the response by the marketplace."

The President's push toward 35 billion gallons of renewable fuels admittedly sets the bar high, but is an achievable goal, Deputy Chief of Staff Joel Kaplan said Tuesday. Ethanol and biodiesel technology is rapidly advancing; consequently, production and consumption of these renewable fuels is increasing well ahead of the schedule set by the federal Renewable Fuels Standard established in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

"What the President is announcing is an ambitious, but we think, achievable goal. But, it's a technology push. We're on the cusp of some very important technological breakthroughs, in particular, in cellulosic ethanol," Kaplan said. "As it stands now, we've seen a very dramatic increase just in the last couple of years in the use of corn ethanol.

"So, as a result, even though it was just a year or two ago that the 7.5 billion gallon mark was set for 2012, we're coming up quickly on that mark and we're going to surpass it within a year or so."

In the annual State of the Union address Tuesday night, President George W. Bush outlined a new goal for future development of renewable fuels to lessen U.S. gasoline consumption by 20% in the next decade.

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