New Biofuel Initiative


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??Louisiana appears to be turning over a greener leaf. The Advanced Biofuel Industry Development Initiative officially kicked off earlier this month. It’s meant to expand fuel supplies in the state without boosting dependence on foreign oil and gas. 

Act 382 by Rep. Jonathan W. Perry, an Abbeville Republican, is also being touted as an economic development tool for rural regions of the state and those still recovering from the 2005 hurricane season. It calls for a small network of advanced biofuel manufacturers, which in turn could create a new industry. From a national perspective, the initiative stands out because it will not rely solely on feedstock corn to create an ethanol blend. Rather, the new law is guided by a so-called “field-to-pump strategy” that will promote other feedstocks derived from crops harvested in Louisiana. For south Louisiana, that means sugar cane. There’s already movement — Imperial Sugar announced in May that it will build an ethanol plant that will be operational by 2011 next to its sugar refinery in Gramercy. And the Sugar Cane Research Station in Houma is involved in joint ventures focusing on the production of biofuel. Pretty much any crop, aside from corn, can join the party — so long as it doesn’t “burden local water supplies,” according to the new law. The initiative also frowns upon crops that need an excessive amount of fertilizers. Specifically, Act 382 creates two pilot programs. The first calls for a blend of fuel and advanced biofuel, meaning hydrous or anhydrous ethanol from sugar or other starches, to be made through 2012. Mixtures would range from 10 percent to 85 percent. The second would put to use various fuel blends in motor vehicles during the same period, with the Department of Agriculture and Forestry overseeing the process. According to the legislation, the two pilot programs should “offer the consumer a less expensive substitute for unleaded gasoline in the form of E10, E20, E30, and E85.” — Jeremy  Alford


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