Castle & LoBiondo Argue to Accelerate Development of Switch Grass, Crop Waste & Other Cellulosic Biofuels
Join Colleagues in Urging EPA to Find Opportunities to Deal with Rising Fuel, Food Prices
Concerned with the affects of increasing prices of fuel and food, U.S. Representatives Mike Castle (DE-at-large) and Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) have joined with several of their colleagues in urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to "accelerate the development of biofuels made from wood waste, crop waste, and other materials that do not divert food and feed from domestic and international supplies." Castle and LoBiondo have been strong proponents of diversifying energy sources to include ethanol production based on vegetable byproducts and alternative energies such as solar and wind.
"As Congress looks for ways to alleviate the financial burden of skyrocketing gas prices, it may be tempting to concentrate on only short-term solutions. Our approach should be comprehensive and include the development of innovative, new biofuel technologies such as those made from wood and crop waste," said Rep. Castle. "Looking to a variety of solutions will help us to diversify our energy sources and develop more efficient, long-term energy solutions -- without compromising America's food supplies."
"Everyone - from our families to our businesses and our farmers - are feeling the financial strain from increasing fuel costs. As we seek to address this serious problem now and for the future, we must look at readily-available alternatives that could ease fuel prices without increasing food prices," said LoBiondo. "I have strongly advocated for developing ethanol from biofuels such as vegetable byproducts and believe the EPA should further research other opportunities rather than just the current corn-based model."
Castle and LoBiondo joined with other members of the House including Representatives James Moran (VA-08), Tom Davis (VA-11) and James McGovern (MA-03) in sending the letter to EPA Administrator Steve Johnson. The full text of the letter is as follows:
The Honorable Steve Johnson
United States Environmental Protection Agency
Dear Administrator Johnson:
As you evaluate the impact of the renewable fuels standard on rising food prices, we are writing to encourage you to pursue advancing the development of cellulosic biofuels and other fuels that do not contribute to rising food prices and environmental concerns.
As you know, domestic food prices are rising twice as fast as inflation and global food prices have nearly doubled in the last three years. There are many factors contributing to rising food prices, including growing global demand, the price of oil, import restrictions, poor weather and the recent acknowledgement that the biofuels mandate is also a factor. Therefore, we believe it is critical that the Administration and Congress work to accelerate the development of biofuels made from wood waste, crop waste, and other materials that do not divert food and feed from domestic and international
Cellulosic biofuel holds enormous promise. According to the USDA, 25 percent of America's corn crop was diverted to produce ethanol in 2007 and 30 to 35 percent will be diverted in 2008. Nonetheless, fuels derived from corn and other food crops will displace only about 4 percent of America's gasoline supplies this year. By contrast, cellulosic biofuel could displace one-third or more of domestic gasoline supplies, could significantly reduce the price of gasoline, and could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fuels by 80 percent or more.
As you evaluate the impact of the renewable fuels standard on rising food prices, we urge you to do so in a way that will accelerate the development of advanced biofuels.
supplies. We believe that with appropriate incentives and investment in research and development, cellulosic biofuels could be pursued without displacing food crops and without using marginal land.