Speakers See Bright Future for Biodiesel

The biofuel industry has created 147,000 new jobs across the country, added $1.3 billion to federal tax revenues, $1.2 billion in tax revenues to local governments and reduced the farm bill cost by $3.2 billion because of the increase in the value of farm commodities.

Published: 26-Jan-2006

N class=body2>Opportunities in energy produced by farmers has just scratched the surface, and with no break in high oil costs in the immediate future, the ethanol and biodiesel industries are on the verge of busting loose.

Patty Stulp, president of the Ethanol Management Co. in Henderson, has been with that industry for nearly 20 years. She told a Colorado Farm Show crowd Tuesday afternoon that, in 1980, the country produced 100,000 gallons of ethanol. This year, that will exceed 4.6 billion gallons and predictions are for 7.5 billion gallons by 2012.

When the price of gasoline approached $3 a gallon, "that was the result of a shortage of liquid energy. Ethanol is a way of diversifying that supply," Stulp said, plus it reduces the dependency of the U.S. on foreign oil. "Every gallon of ethanol we use is a gallon of fossil fuel we don't use."

Colorado was the first state to mandate the use of 10 percent ethanol in gasoline in the winter and that has reduced carbon monoxide emissions by 30 percent in cars, she said. In addition, the industry has created 147,000 new jobs across the country, added $1.3 billion to federal tax revenues, $1.2 billion in tax revenues to local governments and reduced the farm bill cost by $3.2 billion because of the increase in the value of farm commodities.

Stulp said 90 ethanol plants are in production with another 35 expanding or being built in the U.S.

Biodiesel, produced from oil crops such as mustard seed, canola and others, is also growing, said Ryan Lafferty of Blue Sun Biodiesel of Fort Collins. When mixed with regular diesel, it results in cleaner emissions, increased fuel economy, and increased oil change intervals -- all with no engine modifications.

He said that, in Colorado, there is a potential to grow biodiesel-producing crops on 5.6 million acres that would produce 220 million gallons of the fuel annually. That would be $3.5 billion added to regional income and produce 19,000 new jobs. Crops used would require less water than corn, or soybeans, which is the crop most commonly used in biodiesel production.

In a response to a question, Lafferty said there are 5,000 acres of canola being grown, most of that in the San Luis Valley, which is going to a plant in Lamar that is producing 100,000 gallons of biodiesel.

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