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25 By 25 Resolution

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


25 BY 25 RESOLUTION -- (House of Representatives - October 15, 2007)

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Mr. GOODLATTE. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I would first like to thank the gentleman from Minnesota, the chairman of the committee, for his leadership in bringing this resolution before the Congress again, and the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Holden, for his involvement in this as well.

The resolution, also known as 25x'25, recognizes the importance of agriculture in meeting our energy needs and sets a noble goal for American agriculture: to produce 25 percent of the total energy consumed in the United States from the renewable resources of our agriculture, forestry and working lands by the year 2025.

We have made significant progress in developing a robust industry using agricultural crops as well as animal waste to produce ethanol and biodiesel. In 2006 alone, the renewable fuels industry added more than 1.05 billion gallons of new ethanol to the marketplace. It is projected that without any new technological breakthroughs, the industry already has the potential to produce more than 11 billion gallons per year within the next decade.

While the domestic production of energy has been exciting, there are still many renewable energy sources yet to be explored and developed. There are a wide variety of agricultural products and by-products that can be converted to clean, renewable energy sources. In fact, there are sources of renewable energy in every one of our 50 States, including wind, solar, hydropower and biomass. The development of cellulosic technology has enormous potential to bolster the renewable fuel market inside the corn belt and well beyond.

I am particularly excited about the opportunity to use forest biomass as a component of our renewable energy supply. Forest biomass is plentiful and available in many States. Almost two-thirds of the Commonwealth of Virginia is forested, as is much of the southeastern United States. In fact, today we have roughly the same amount of forest land as we had 100 years ago. Trees are an abundant resource and are available for conversion into both wood products and biofuels year-round.

Every year we grow almost twice as much forest biomass as we harvest. This wood and wood waste has the potential to produce enough electricity to power 43 million households, or enough ethanol to increase our domestic supply by almost 10-fold. As we find more ways to use forest biomass in our energy supply, we also have the opportunity to improve forest health, removing materials that fuel wildfires and insect and disease infestations.

Renewable energy development can create valuable markets for many of the waste materials which are currently a burden on America's farmers, such as animal waste, harvest by-products and damaged crops. Farmers continue to face steep environmental regulations in handling animal waste, and converting this waste into renewable fuels is a win-win for farmers and the environment. In fact, I would like to see the word ``waste'' taken out of American agriculture since almost everything produced on our farms can be used or reused for some other purpose.

The current tax credits and renewable fuels standard, along with the phaseout of MTBE, has helped fuel investment in new ethanol and biodiesel plants, and created more markets for agriculture products. It is obvious that current policies have successfully established a thriving, renewable fuels market. We should now focus on policy that will develop commercial cellulosic ethanol and allow new markets to drive production.

New proposed initiatives are extremely ambitious and can only be achieved with contributions from all areas of the agriculture sector, including grains, plants, trees and wood waste, vegetable oil, and animal fat and waste.

The 2002 farm bill included the first-ever energy title with programs to help renewable fuel producers purchase and expand operations and purchase feedstocks and also established programs to make grants and loans to farmers, ranchers and small businesses to purchase renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements on farming operations.

The energy title of the House's 2007 farm bill builds on the 2002 bill by providing nearly $3 billion to promote the commercial production of cellulosic ethanol. These initiatives will help farmers and forest owners by creating new markets and income opportunities to keep them on the land and keep their land working. At the same time, greater focus on cellulosic feedstocks can reduce our reliance on corn for renewable fuels.

Increased development of renewable energy opens new markets for our Nation's producer; provides consumers with a safe, sustainable, environmentally friendly and renewable source of energy; and decreases our Nation's dependency on foreign oil.

25x'25 is a vision we can all get behind, as 600 groups already have, including agriculture and forestry groups, as well as business and environmental organizations. Over 20 of our Nation's Governors, along with 72 bipartisan cosponsors in the House, have recognized that this is a goal, though challenging, that is worth striving for.

I encourage my colleagues to join us in recognizing the important role American agriculture plays in domestic energy production and work with us to turn the goal of 25x'25 into a reality.

Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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