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Energy

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Location: Washington, DC


ENERGY

Mr. CRAIG. Mr. President, I come to the floor to talk about energy once again. Here we are now, with record gas and oil prices, and several of the opponents of the energy bill produced by Senator Domenici, myself, and others-my Democrat colleagues on the other side of the aisle-are now claiming that the bill does little, if it were passed and if it were law, to reduce our dependence upon oil or other fossil fuels. Less dependence is something we all share.

First of all, I challenge my Democratic opponents to pass the law. First pass the law, get it into production, see where it takes us, instead of simply carp and carp very loudly about energy prices and dependency on oil, and then do nothing about it except talk in political terms in a very political year.

What I am going to suggest and show you in the next few moments about one aspect of the bill-one relatively small aspect of the bill-I think argues that if the bill were law today and if it were allowed to be implemented, it would give us the opportunity to rapidly begin to decrease our dependence on foreign oil and other fossil fuels.

The one provision I am talking about in the bill by itself could reduce our dependence on gas and other foreign oils by as much as 12 billion gallons. To understand how wrong my Democratic colleagues are on this issue, let's look at the provisions of the bill that would enable loan guarantees to help kick-start the cellulose ethanol industry. Cellulose ethanol could develop very quickly as an industry and have a major impact on rural incomes and the environment as well as our energy security.

What is cellulose ethanol? Cellulose ethanol looks, smells, and acts like regular ethanol, but instead of being made from corn, it is made from what we call agricultural residues. Agricultural residues are a part of the plants for which we have no commercial productive use today. When a crop is grown-grain, for example-we use the grain for food, both animal food and human food. Some of the plant is often left on the ground to keep the soil fertile and from eroding. We call it straw. And the rest must be disposed of as a form of residue. Sometimes it is burned, sometimes it is bailed and used for livestock bedding, and a variety of other purposes. But residue is straw from which wheat and barley grow in my State and nearly every other State in the Nation. It is the corn stover, the stalks, the husks, the cobs from the Corn Belt. It is the sugar bagasse or cotton stalks from Florida or Texas. It is that residue that American agriculture produces.

Farmers often pay to dispose of this material. We have known for a long time that cellulose in this material can be transformed into hydrocarbons. Now it seems that the technology to do so is closer than ever before.

The Wall Street Journal reported on April 21 of this year that Iogen, a Canadian company, had begun to produce cellulose ethanol commercially. That ethanol produced from wheat straw is now being sold and used in small quantities in Ottawa and surrounding areas.

The cover of the August 30 issue of Fortune magazine, a magazine I hold in my hand, says "How to Kick the Oil Habit." The article mentions alternative fuels as one of the four ways to kick the habit. It also focuses on Iogen and cellulose ethanol in this article. So cellulose ethanol seems to be on its way.

But why should any of us care about this? What does it have to do with our Energy bill? The Energy bill contains a provision that would allow commercial cellulose ethanol production to begin in the United States within a matter of a couple of years.

Iogen has partnered with Shell Oil, and together they want to build the world's first full-scale cellulose ethanol production facility right here in the United States. But as long as the Energy bill is stalled, so is this project. A lot of lipservice can be given, but until this Congress acts and until my colleagues on the other side of the aisle line up with us to allow this technology to come on line, there can be a lot of talk, but the dependence on foreign oil will continue.

Also stalled today would be an opportunity to begin to fill the gas tanks of Americans with a fuel that would be grown in the heartland of America. Certainly, we have and will continue to use corn-based ethanol, and the Energy bill I talk about would go a long way toward bringing more of that into production. But there is a limit as to how much corn we can dedicate to energy production.

On the other hand, with cellulose ethanol, we are not talking about small quantities. This summer, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman announced the results of a study that showed there is enough agricultural residue produced on our farms to support 200 of these types of ethanol plants and that those plants could displace 7 to 10 percent of the gasoline we consume today. That is a reasonable guesstimate.

You have heard me right: If we get this industry going by simply using waste materials from America's farms, we could knock almost 10 percent off our gas imports. What does that say as to our ability to negotiate in a world market? It says a great deal because now we have leverage, and the leverage is a product being produced right here at home.

This will not happen unless we are able to implement this bill and bring it on board. Just one cellulose ethanol plant would enhance energy security by replacing a gasoline component of the crude oil imports from 2.4 to 2.9 million barrels per year; increase farm income by $25 million per year by creating economic value for residues that currently, as I said, have little to no value or are simply viewed as waste; create economic development by creating over 1,000 new jobs during peak construction, and almost 200 new permanent jobs and about 450 spinoff jobs.

That is positive economics when you can talk in those terms, and those terms are not just talk. That is reality if we implement the Energy bill.

It would reduce net emissions of carbon dioxide by 355,000 metric tons annually and would reduce emissions of major air components targeted by the Clean Air Act.

A mature cellulose ethanol industry based on agricultural residues alone would multiply these benefits: Enhance U.S. energy security by displacing up to 10 to 12 billion gallons of gas annually, which represents 7 to 10 percent of current U.S. gas consumption; provide approximately 200 to 300 rural communities with more jobs and farmers with more income, and certainly a stronger economy for American agriculture; reduce carbon dioxide, CO2, emissions from 65 to 100 million metric tons.

We are talking about putting money into U.S. farmers' pockets instead of the pockets of the oil sheiks of the Middle East.

About 29 States currently produce ethanol, and those States clearly have the ability to produce cellulose ethanol in a tremendous way. Chart 1 shows the States that are capable of doing that. Can you imagine, instead of having only a few oil-producing States in our Nation, we would have nearly 25 States capable of producing? That is the value of this program, and adding nearly $25 million a year to the local economy. That is what we are talking about with regard to this Energy bill and what it could do.

So not only are we talking about that, but our second chart shows what is extremely important, and that is in carbon savings reported by various studies by bringing this kind of production online. Reducing demand on gasoline from foreign oil from 15 to 20 percent creates anywhere from $5 billion to $7.5 billion annually in economic growth in rural America. That is what we are talking about, and that is what I think chart 3 represents so clearly. It is tremendously important.

Here is today's gas engines, in relation to greenhouse gas emissions. Here is the diesel hybrid that we are all excited about today in hybrid production, again a decline. Here is the hydrogen fuel cell car. Our President has been leading and talking about the new hydrogen technologies for surface transportation. Then we have today's ethanol engine, today's ethanol fuel cell engine.

As a country, we are simply on hold at this moment because for 5 long years this Congress has debated but has refused to pass a comprehensive national energy policy that not only advances these technologies but incentivizes the marketplace to go after these technologies.

So when our colleagues on the other side of the aisle simply say the Energy bill will do nothing for the American consumer, I say politically and in reality, shame on them. They know better. They worked with us in trying to develop this bill over the last 5 years. It has become a bipartisan working piece in a very comprehensive way.

Today, I have taken just a small piece of that bill, the cellulose ethanol production capability of this country, and to suggest that it would reduce our dependence by 12 percent or even more, that it would improve American agriculture and put $25 million a year into the heartland of America, oh, my goodness, we cannot as a country look forward in that way, shame on us.

I hoped we could have passed a national energy bill this year. We are certainly going to in the future because the American public, I trust, is going to get fed up with paying $2.10 or more a gallon for their fuel and finding themselves increasingly dependent upon the Middle East. That is something the American consumer should not tolerate and that the American politician ought not stall out or block from happening.

I yield the floor.

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